By June 30, 2010 7 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Should I carry my own malpractice insurance?

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woman with umbrellaMy 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.

Find yourself a career that fits

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

7 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: Should I carry my own malpractice insurance?"

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  1. Lots of travel nurses are divided on that topic of getting their own malpractice insurance and leaving it up to the recruiter or hospital. Best thing for nurses is to always document everything thoroughly, even it it takes extra time. Documentation is a HUGE HUGE safety net.

  2. 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.

  3. Jennifer says:

    David is spot on with his assertion that license defense is far more important for the Traveler than Malpractice especially for those RN’s who want to come to sunny California- It may be a beautiful state but it’s BRN is NOT! They’re ruthless and have figured out they can shake down good nurses for a profit.

    Also, make sure that you read your malpractice insurance’s fine print. Most of the larger companies like NSO have a license defense provision, but you still have to find an attorney who specializes in license defense and you still have to pay all of their fees and then the malpractice provider will reimburse you on a “case by case basis.”

    A better alternative is a plan that deals specifically with license defense, which gives you direct access to attorneys who are experts when up against the BRN and who offer you PROACTIVE legal advice to keep you out of trouble before the BRN get’s a hold of you.

    If you would like legal advice or just more information, check out http://www.rnguardian.com

  4. Jennifer says:

    @ UsedCardBoardBoxes… or you could just call an attorney and ask them what to do… If you have a plan that allows that.

  5. Jennifer says:

    David is spot on with his assertion that license defense is far more important for the Traveler than Malpractice especially for those RN’s who want to come to sunny California- It may be a beautiful state but it’s BRN is NOT! They’re ruthless and have figured out they can shake down good nurses for a profit.

    Also, make sure that you read your malpractice insurance’s fine print. Most of the larger companies like NSO have a license defense provision, but you still have to find an attorney who specializes in license defense and you still have to pay all of their fees and then the malpractice provider will reimburse you on a “case by case basis.”

    A better alternative is a plan that deals specifically with license defense, which gives you direct access to attorneys who are experts when up against the BRN and who offer you PROACTIVE legal advice to keep you out of trouble before the BRN get’s a hold of you.

  6. I do believe that a nurse should have its own malpractice insurance so that everything is going to be so secure if there is something wrong happen.

  7. eQuoteMD says:

    David, I have to agree with Jennifer, you have really given some great advice in this post and kudos to you sir.

    “Whatever your personal take on the issue, spend some time getting informed about the legal aspects of nursing.”

    The quote above is probably the single most important advice anyone healthcare professional should listen to. Especially when it comes to malpractice insurance.

    Now, practicing without coverage I have to say is risky. Right now physicians are dealing with “practicing bare” issues in Florida. Visit the following if interested in reading more in regards to medical malpractice insurance in Florida.

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