My post this week comes from a traveler just starting in the industry. She said that her travel company was not providing malpractice insurance and wanted to know if I thought she should carry a policy on her own.
I would have to say that the answer to this question will depend on personal preference, but I still gave her a few schools of thought for her to consider. Next, I want to stress that I am not an attorney and if malpractice insurance concerns you, I would ALWAYS advise consulting your own legal counsel.
First, even if your travel company does carry malpractice insurance, if this is coverage you depend on, you should always know exactly what it covers and the conditions of that coverage. If you are someone who wants this type of coverage, then you may need to supplement any travel company provided insurance if their limits are not up to par. Again, if you depend on this protection, always ask your recruiter for more information on the coverage limits and any conditions that apply to that coverage.
Another thing you need to check, especially if you are counting on your travel nursing company’s malpractice coverage, is whether or not that policy will cover any legal representation you might need should you ever have to go before a state’s nursing board. I would argue that needing representation before a nursing board occurs far more often that needing representation in court.
A second school of thought on malpractice insurance is that it is best NOT to carry any. The argument is made that if something bad happens, who is going to get sued? Would they go after a nurse making $50,000 a year or the deep pockets of the hospital? I have heard of cases where that argument has held true, but if the hospital lost a case, and it was because of a nurse’s malpractice, then the hospital might decide to come back on the nurse with a suit of its own.
Whatever your personal take on the issue, spend some time getting informed about the legal aspects of nursing. Whenever I need to complete CEU’s, I always look for courses that involve the legal aspects of my profession. Travel nursing forums are also a good place to read up on any legal issues other nurses have had.
It should go without saying, whether you have insurance or not, safe nursing practice will always be your best line of defense against malpractice.