Do Dental Hygienists Need Dental Malpractice Insurance?

Dec 10, 2019 | Business Insurance

Dental hygienists can benefit from the protection of malpractice insurance just as much as dentists can. In fact, any professional that provides health-related care should cover themselves, This is important in case something goes awry.

Dental malpractice insurance protects dental hygienists from legal problems. In most cases, hygienists rely on their employers to provide this insurance. However, there are good reasons to consider getting malpractice insurance themselves. Let’s take a look.

The Two Types of Dental Malpractice Insurance

Though hygienists don’t face as many lawsuits as dentists do, there are still times when lawsuits occur. There are two different types of dental malpractice insurance available to hygienists. These include occurrence policies and claims-made policies.

What is an Occurrence Policy?

For hygienists that go with an occurrence policy, coverage continues even after leaving a practice. It doesn’t matter when the claim is filed, the hygienist is protected and carries over into retirement. This type of coverage is considered to be the most comprehensive of the malpractice insurance types.

What is a Claims-Made Policy?

The other type of dental malpractice insurance that hygienists often opt for is the claims-made policy. This type of insurance protects against lawsuits, but only those filed while the policy is active and the hygienist is still practicing. If they decide to leave their practice or retire, this type of insurance policy doesn’t remain active, so any lawsuit filed against them at that point will not be covered.

Some hygienists decide to also get a tail coverage policy along with their claims-made policy which will protect them for a specific amount of time after they retire or leave the practice.

When Should You Consider Stand-Alone Coverage?

If you take on your employer’s insurance, it will cover all the professionals named in the lawsuit which means the coverage will be shared. This limits how much coverage you end up getting as the hygienist. There are benefits to getting your own policy which will follow you if you switch practices or if there are any gaps in insurance should you lose your job.

When Should You Consider Getting Your Own Dental Malpractice Insurance?

So now that you are aware of some of the benefits of getting your own malpractice insurance policy, in what situations should you especially consider doing so? Here are times when it’s probably a good idea:

  • If you currently work in more than one office or if you’re only employed on a temporary basis.
  • If you volunteer your services at schools, nursing homes, or health clinics that don’t offer any insurance coverage or sufficient coverage.
  • If you are employed as a freelance hygienist.
  • If you want to set your own policy limits and deductibles and be more in control.

Under any of these circumstances, getting your own policy offers that extra protection.

What Are Some of the Most Common Failures that Lead to Lawsuit Issues?

As a dental hygienist, there are some claims that are filed more often than others against others in the business. By being aware of what some of these common pitfalls are, you can be more careful to avoid them yourself.

Failure to Notice Oral Cancer

One of the main reasons that dental hygienists find themselves facing a lawsuit is due to their failure to notice and report oral cancer. Professional hygienists are trained to spot cancer growths, but sometimes a hygienist is in a hurry and misses some of those tell-tale symptoms. This can become a big financial problem if you don’t have adequate dental malpractice insurance.

A Patient Injury

Though you’d never intentionally injure any patient, accidents can and do still happen. It’s only a matter of time before you injure a patient while cleaning their teeth, even if the injury is very minor.

More often than not, the injury isn’t a big deal, and the patient is quick to forgive and move on, especially when a sincere apology is given. But you never know for sure how a patient will react and how serious the injury may be, so it’s best to protect yourself.

A Failure to Keep Patient Medical Information Private

Medical professionals all know that they should never discuss any of their patients’ medical history with anyone else. If you share medical information about any of your patients to anyone besides the dentist, you’re putting yourself at risk of facing an angry patient and a lawsuit. Take that extra step to protect yourself against this mistake.

Failing to Inform Your Patient About Other Treatment Options

As a medical professional, it’s your job to make sure that each of your patients knows their treatment options as well as the consequences of not going through with a suggested treatment. If you fail to fully inform a patient about the risks of not seeking treatment, or about the other options available to them, it could come back to bite you. Protect yourself with full coverage malpractice insurance.

Get Insured Today

You’ve just learned about some of the benefits of having dental malpractice insurance as well as the risks associated with not being fully covered. Now it’s time to move forward with setting up an insurance policy to protect yourself as a dedicated dental hygienist.

Give us a call today to discuss what kind of policy is right for you. We’ve helped countless other dental hygienists who understand the importance of a malpractice insurance policy, and we want to do the same for you! We look forward to hearing from you!