Occupational Medicine Malpractice Insurance

The relationship between practitioners and employees in occupational medicine is different and there is more potential for difficult conflicts of interest. There are also modified laws in the occupational medicine field  in regards to the relationship between physician and patient. It is critical that occupational medicine practitioners understand the applicable state and federal laws and protect themselves with medical malpractice insurance accordingly. 

What is Occupational Medicine?

Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) is a board-certified specialty under Preventive Medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses. Occupational medicine also addresses disease prevention and promotes wellness among workers. An occupational health physician should be knowledgeable of potential hazards in the workplace including toxic properties of materials used. 

How Occupational Medicine Is Unique 

Physicians in occupational medicine often find themselves in a unique situation: they are caught between employers, who wish to see employees return to work as quickly as possible, and patients, who often prefer to maximize their disability compensation and to whom they have a duty of care. This duty is doubly complicated by the fact that employees typically do not have the right to refuse the occupational physician’s services, or seek alternative care. Caution and prudence, as well as sound risk management procedures, are necessary to navigate this delicate situation.

In many cases, physicians without special training or certification are asked by employers to provide occupational medicine services. Physicians should consult with experts before agreeing to provide such services, as they may be operating outside of their legally allowable scope of practice.

Why do Occupational Medicine Doctors Need Malpractice Insurance?

Physicians practicing occupational medicine have varying exposure to malpractice risk, depending largely on how they are employed. Even physicians who are company employees and may think themselves protected from liability by their employers can sometimes still be sued as independent contractors or under the dual capacity doctrine. The dual capacity doctrine is a law in some states that allows employees of a company to sue fellow employees who have independent professional licenses, on the grounds that the employer does not control the licensed professional.

All occupational physicians should familiarize themselves with the laws in their state as well as the types of scenarios that commonly lead to malpractice claims in the specialty and take steps to protect themselves from liability.

Examples of Occupational Medicine Malpractice 

In occupational medicine, as in other specialties, malpractice is committed when the physician’s treatment does not meet the established standard of care. In occupational medicine, this most often means either failure to notify a worker of an adverse condition or risk of a future adverse condition as well as sending an employee back to work prematurely, without adequate safety measures. 

Preventing Potential Malpractice Litigation

In order to avoid a failure to notify the worker of an adverse condition, occupational physicians should take a prudently broad view when examining patients. There is often a temptation to focus exclusively on the reported injury in a workplace accident, but the occupational physician has some duty to examine the patient comprehensively. For example, if a physician is examining a chest x-ray to determine whether a patient has suffered a broken rib after an accident, the physician is still obligated to check the x-ray for any signs of a tumor. However, if the patient has an injury in his or her foot, the physician has no obligation to take a chest x-ray and check for tumors.

To avoid prematurely returning employees to work, employ careful documentation, including the rationale for all decisions. Additionally, if a patient seems resistant or questions his or her return to work, it is always a good idea for the occupational physician to seek a second opinion, preferably from a physician who has no affiliation with the employer.

Save Money by Working with a Malpractice Insurance Agent

You can save money on your medical malpractice insurance by working with an insurance agent or broker. Brokers shop for the best available policies to determine which ones are best suited for your unique needs at the lowest cost. 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.

Why Occupational Medicine Physicians Choose Cunningham Group

Occupational Medicine physicians choose Cunningham Group because we are one of the few medical malpractice insurance agencies that take the time to understand your specific employment situation and your approach to patient care. With access to every major medical malpractice insurance company in every state, our team is uniquely qualified to get you the best coverage at the most affordable price. Most agents only have access to one or two medical malpractice insurance companies. Our almost-universal access lets us shop your coverage among nearly every available company, which means malpractice insurers compete for your business.

How Does the Process Work?

  1. You will submit your information through a secure medical malpractice insurance quote form.
  2. You can always call us and speak to an agent immediately.
  3. A veteran medical malpractice insurance broker will be assigned to you.
  4. We shop your Occupational Medicine Insurance to every major malpractice insurance company in your state.
  5. Your agent will take the time and go over all of your options with you, explaining everything to make certain you make the right decision.
  6. We get you your insurance policy at the best price with a major insurance company.
  7. At renewal time: We start the shopping process all over again, getting you quotes from all the major malpractice insurance companies to again make certain you’re properly priced.

Request your free medical malpractice insurance quote and learn why more people choose us over anyone else in the nation.