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Does your hospital have medical malpractice insurance?

When heath care professionals make an error, they should be held responsible for their actions. Compensation that is awarded through a medical malpractice lawsuit usually comes from malpractice insurance. However, New York residents may be surprised to find out that some New York hospitals do not carry malpractice insurance at all.

Hospitals throughout the country consider the costs of medical malpractice insurance to be a necessary expense, but hospitals in New York are not required to carry malpractice insurance. When hospitals continue to operate despite being uninsured, the short-term gain may be significantly outweighed by the long-term impact on patient care.

"From a social perspective, it's very irresponsible," one law professor said. "They're taking in these people knowing they're not able to make good on the harm they caused."

When a hospital does not have malpractice insurance, any claim a patient makes could be met with empty pockets. Although some hospitals claim to have money set aside to pay malpractice claims, a review by The New York Times revealed that most hospitals have little to no money set aside in a reserve fund.

New York residents would be wise to carefully consider the hospital at which they receive care. Hospitals with high amounts of malpractice claims may face high premiums. Those high premiums may force them to continue to operate without insurance.

Doctors and other health care professionals have a duty to provide patients with quality care. When they fail to do that, they should be held accountable. Hospitals that forego malpractice insurance show that they are unwilling to do all that they can to protect their patients.

Source: The New York Times, "Troubled New York Hospitals Forgo Coverage for Malpractice," Anemona Hartocollis, July 15, 2012

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