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Types of Nursing Liabilities and How to Protect Yourself

Nurses interact with patients in a number of ways. Many are responsible for working with or treating patients directly and if something were to go wrong, the corporation could be brought into a suit, or the nurse may be sued directly. Nurses have more one-on-one patient interaction, and consequently, exposure at a practice. It’s crucial they know how to do their job well without fearing potential litigation. Malpractice insurance is the greatest approach to safeguard and defend, as well as give peace of mind, for nurses.

As a nurse, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your patients. This includes providing care that meets the accepted standards of nursing practice. Sometimes, nurses make mistakes. When this happens, the nurse can be held liable for any injuries or damages that result.

Types of Nursing Liability Protection

Professional Liability – Covered Under Corporation

Oftentimes, if a healthcare individual is named directly, the corporation’s professional liability or medical malpractice policy would respond and fully cover that individual.  Many types of employees are direct insureds of the corporation.  Such professions as Registered Nurses, Home Care Aides, Therapists, Lab Techs, and others would be automatically covered. 

Professional Liability – Not Automatically Covered Under Corporation

While many professions are covered under the corporation, there are also other types of medical professions not automatically covered under the corporation.  Professions such as Nurse Practitioners, Midwifes, Nurse Anesthetists, and others may need to be individually underwritten by the carrier and listed under a specific coverage Endorsement that would be added to the policy.  These professions come with a higher education and are held to a higher standard from a professional license standpoint, thus, need some extra attention by the insurance company. 

Professional Liability – Individual Coverage Required

Generally, if the nurse is working as an employee of the practice, the corporation will maintain proper coverage for the nurse without worry.  However, in cases where the nurse is brought on as a contractor (1099), typically the corporation’s professional liability insurance will not extend coverage to that individual, and so the nurse would need to procure their own professional liability policy for themselves.  Such insurance can range from a few hundred dollars per year up to a thousand depending on the profession.

Examples of Nursing Malpractice: What Are the Most Common?

The most typical instances of nursing malpractice are described below, in addition to the mistakes listed above. 

  • Failing to keep track of a patient and failing to detect a change in their vital signs can be extremely dangerous.
  • Failing to record a patient’s condition accurately and completely in their chart.
  • Failing to make sure that all medical equipment is in good working order.
  • Failing to provide proper nutrition to a patient.
  • Failing to respond to a patient’s needs in a timely manner is a violation of professional standards.
  • Failing to update a patient’s chart with any modifications in his or her development.
  • On a patient’s chart, using the incorrect abbreviations.
  • Failing to request additional assistance from a physician for assistance when needed.
  • Making a deliberate mistake during routine care, for example when collecting blood or taking a patient’s blood pressure. 

No matter what type of liability you may face as a nurse, it is important you are properly protected. This will help you protect yourself financially if you are ever sued for damages. If you are a nurse, make sure you are properly protected by liability insurance!