The purpose of medical malpractice insurance is to cover doctors and other healthcare professionals for any liability claims arising from their treatment of patients.
If a doctor or healthcare provider is found guilty of medical malpractice, the damages awarded often reach into the millions, and can be even larger if punitive damages are awarded. Malpractice insurance shields him or her from financial liability in the case of a malpractice verdict.
However, just as your auto insurance rates go up with each ticket you receive, being found guilty of medical malpractice can drive a doctor’s insurance rates up for many years. In addition, recent years have seen a steep rise in the cost of medical malpractice coverage. This has, in many cases, caused great hardship for those in the medical community, and some are pushing for limits on certain types of damages in order to defray costs.
Despite these concerns, many attorneys for malpractice victims disagree with such limits. Specifically, they blame high premiums on poor investment choices while large plaintiff rewards simply reflect an unacceptable level of patient care and medical practice.
This crisis has been particularly prevalent in Pennsylvania. Physicians and hospitals are citing a lack of availability and affordability for malpractice insurance, so much so that it is driving many practitioners right out of business.
High-risk specialty areas have been hit the hardest, as they face the greatest chance for malpractice claims, and therefore carry the highest rates. In general, malpractice payouts have been on the rise in recent years and the fallout for healthcare professionals has been severe.
Despite the difficulty some practitioners may be experiencing in regards to paying their malpractice insurance premiums, it’s a problem that is not likely to go away. Since it is really the only shield doctors have from the financial ruin that might result from a huge damage award, healthcare professionals must cover these rates to stay in business.