What Should Hospitalists Do?
If you are an individual hospitalist and your hospital provides your coverage, our experts have some suggestions on how to best protect yourself from surprises later about your liability insurance.
“[Y]ou certainly ought to get a copy of the policy,” says Halpern, and “focus very carefully on several things: 1) what’s covered, 2) what’s excluded, 3) what are the limits, and 4) who’s providing the coverage?”
You need to be able to feel that you can say “yes” to the question, “Is this a company that I can be confident will be there when it’s needed?”
If after a careful review of your policy, you have areas you would like to discuss with the hospital, it’s a matter of negotiation. And when you have the “negotiation muscle” to get what you need for protection, says Halpern, you’re in a better position.
“Frankly, most hospitals are interested in maintaining quality staff, quality relations with physicians—both employed and on the consulting staff,” says Halpern. “[They] are not typically in the business of muscling people and treating them badly. So if the hospitalist finds a legitimate gap in coverage or a concern, by and large hospitals look to be fair in working those things out. If they’re not, there are two basic approaches, and one is to not continue in the relationship.” (In other words, quit). “The second [approach] is to insure over the gap by going to an insurance broker and seeing if you can find coverage.”
Although most hospitalists are covered under their hospital policies, all hospitalists would benefit from understanding the specifics of their malpractice coverage. The dynamics of the hospitalist model will require changes in many areas including malpractice insurance. The trend of insurance carriers to establish a separate classification for hospitalists is likely to provide more precisely written coverage that accounts for the particulars of hospital medicine practice TH
Writer Andrea Sattinger will write about risk management for hospitalists in the Jan. ’06 issue.
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