Pulmonologists and their Medical Malpractice Insurance

It is outside the norm for pulmonologists to perform surgery, though they sometimes perform minor procedures -for example, removing a piece of tissue from the lung for testing. Instead, pulmonology’s primary tool is medication, dispensed by inhalation or in pill form.

Since pulmonologists generally do not perform invasive procedures, the specialty is generally not considered by malpractice insurers to be high risk. As a lower-risk specialty, it carries malpractice liability insurance premiums that are on the lower end of the spectrum. However, premiums across all specialties are rising and vary widely based on the individual physician’s location and level of risk exposure. Premiums will be highest in states with hostile legal climates. In rural states, and states that have enacted tort reform measures, premiums tend to be lower.

According to a study published in the specialty journal Chest, the nationwide average malpractice insurance premium among members of the American College of Chest Physicians in 2005 was about $32,000, a definite increase from previous years. Malpractice premiums accounted for about 6 percent of a practice’s revenue, on average. The study also showed that pulmonologists had to increase their workloads in order to maintain the same level of income they were earning in the previous year, a troubling trend.

Risk management techniques can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit, which can lead to lower malpractice insurance costs. Effective communication with patients is important, and pulmonologists should develop a courteous, straightforward bedside manner, certain to explain concepts to their patients clearly. In addition to communication, documentation can save a doctor from losing a lawsuit. Physicians should keep a thorough, organized record of every case. It is helpful to document the lines of thought that led to diagnosis, and the thorough processes by which alternate diagnoses were eliminated. Pulmonologists who are concerned about rising malpractice insurance premiums should support the efforts of their professional organizations and communicate with politicians to advance tort reform in their states.

We have Liability Insurance agents who have worked with Pulmonologists all over the country, and they will assist you in finding the med-mal policy that fits you and your medical practice at the lowest possible price.

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Important Resources for Pulmonologists

ACP: Pulmonology
US News: Best Hospitals: Pulmonology
Pulmonology News
The Pulmonary Paper
American Lung Association
Pulmonary — Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee