Does Your Med Mal Policy Cover Procedures Outside Your Specialty?
I recently read an article in the New York Times, entitled, “Ear Doctors Performing Face-Lifts? It Happens.” I can’t believe that we haven’t come across this topic sooner in our discussions here of med mal. With insurance reimbursement rates going down, down, down, it is no surprise that physicians are branching out and finding more lucrative procedures, that they feel comfortable performing, to boost their bottom line –even if they are not necessarily extensively trained in those procedures or even in the relevant specialty that traditionally performs the procedure. But, should a med mal lawsuit be brought against a physician doing one of these a-typical, outside-of-his-or-her-specialty procedures, would his or her med mal policy cover him or her?
This is an excellent question that every physician who is performing, or considering performing, out-of-specialty procedures should know the answer to. A physician should never assume that because he or she has med mal coverage that every procedure he or she does is covered.
The article specifically discusses the extensive amount of lucrative plastic surgery-related procedures being performed by non-plastic surgeons. It mentions gynecologists performing breast augmentation, family practice doctors giving Botox injections, and ophthalmologists (this is really a stretch) doing liposuction! Needless to say, these physicians are taking huge risks, performing procedures that they most likely are not extensively trained to perform, nor Board-certified in, to say the least. And, with this lack of training, comes a much higher likelihood of medical errors and less-than-ideal results, making the chances of med mal lawsuits significantly higher, too. Plastic surgeon’s are seeing a boom in business as a result of botched jobs that they are being asked to fix. (For information about plastic surgeon’s med mal coverage, see our page.)
Thus, while it may be appealing to perform these more lucrative procedures and some physicians may point to the fact that there are no laws stating that a physician cannot practice outside his or her specialty or Board certification, we strongly advise against it unless you know you are properly covered. Quite simply, a physician’s med mal policy may not cover such procedures. If you have questions about this issue, or would like to get coverage for procedures you are performing outside of your medical specialty, don’t hesitate to contact us here at MyMedicalMalparcticeInsurance.com.