Emergency Medicine Malpractice Insurance

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Understanding emergency medicine malpractice insurance.

Due to the nature of its practice, emergency medicine is considered a high-risk specialty. Patient encounters are short, cases are diverse and unpredictable, and physicians have no chance to establish a consistent relationship with patients. These factors, and others, lead to a high rate of lawsuits filed against emergency medicine physicians. Medical malpractice insurers are aware of this and charge relatively high premiums for the specialty. Premiums vary widely based on the state and other details of the practice. High malpractice insurance premiums are driving many physicians out of emergency medicine, and the possibility of a shortage is a serious issue. Research suggests that tort reform legislation may be able to prevent such a shortage.

study published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, a prominent journal in the specialty, examined medical malpractice cases in emergency medicine in Illinois and found that the average indemnity in a case was more than $200,000, and that cases that involved patients less than one year old took the longest to resolve and paid the most indemnity to successful plaintiffs.

Emergency medicine is the primary forum for the debate about defensive medicine, the name given to the trend towards physicians ordering unnecessary tests or performing unnecessary procedures because of the fear of being sued. This trend increases healthcare costs to consumers and creates inefficiency in the system. There is also a “snowball effect” to defensive medicine. As doctors perform more procedures and order more tests, this increased level of vigilance becomes the accepted standard of care in malpractice courts, and physicians have even more cause to fear a malpractice suit. Emergency medicine physicians are particularly vexed by the dilemma of defensive medicine, since they have no ongoing relationship with their patients and often feel that they must test extensively and be sure to miss nothing because they are not sure if patients will heed follow-up instructions.

Emergency medicine physicians have good reason to fear a lawsuit based on a missed or mistaken diagnosis, as data suggests that this is the most common origin of lawsuits against doctors in the specialty. These suits most commonly involve chest pain, abdominal pain, fractures, and a few other areas of emergency medicine practice.

If emergency physicians are concerned about the high cost of malpractice insurance, they should support the efforts of their professional societies to advance tort reform measures. The American College of Emergency Physicians, a leading specialty organization, maintains a medical liability reform position statement that recommends reforms that include limits on non-economic damages, joint liability, structured payment systems, reduced statutes of limitations, limits on attorney contingency fees, stricter qualifications on expert witnesses, greater protection of physicians’ apologies, recognition of local standards of care and greater support of pilot programs. Visit the ACEP website to learn how to get involved in the effort to enact tort reform.

How much does emergency medicine malpractice insurance cost?

The cost of emergency medicine malpractice insurance varies greatly dependent on your scope of practice and locality. Emergency docs can buy both claims made and occurrence coverage. When shopping for coverage, always choose an agent that understands your unique situation so they can place you with the right insurance company.  Dig deeper into how much medical malpractice insurance costs.

Why emergency medicine physicians choose Cunningham Group

Emergency medicine physicians choose Cunningham Group because we are one of the few medical malpractice insurance agencies that take the time to understanding of your specific employment situation. We will work with the major insurance carriers in your state to find you a policy that meets your specific needs. And, by shopping you to all of the major carriers, we can also make certain you pay the lowest cost for your professional liability coverage needs.

During the insurance application process, be sure to ask your med-mal insurance agent about any discounts you may be eligible for. Are you “new to practice?” Are you working less than full-time? Are you interested in taking online risk management courses offered by the insurance company to lower your rates? Cunningham Group has helped thousands of emergency medicine physicians maximize their savings.

Does it cost you extra to work with a malpractice insurance agent or broker?

Our service costs you nothing. In the medical malpractice insurance industry, agent commissions are already built into your premium. You pay the same amount for coverage whether you use an agent or purchase directly from the insurance company. Let us be your advocate. Request your free medical malpractice insurance quote now.

The Ultimate Medical Malpractice Insurance Guide

We’ve created the ultimate medical malpractice insurance guide for doctors that can answer almost any question you may have — either before you buy or while you have an active policy. This guide applies to all healthcare professionals in every state.