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Medical Malpractice Insurance: What Is It and Do Dentists Need it?

October 23, 2019
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The total number of registered dentists in the US stood at 199,486 in 2018. This represents a ratio of 61 dentists per 100,000 Americans.  Given this ratio, the demand for dentistry services may be overwhelming. 

You’ll certainly agree that as the number of patients increases, the probability of complaints also heightens. Dental procedures are faultless most of the time. However, there are instances where things go south. 

During complex surgeries, the risk of a patient experiencing complications is high.  Not having medical malpractice insurance can hurt your dental business in such cases. Read on to find out more about what it is & how it helps.

Dentist Malpractice Insurance: What Is It?

As a physician, you perennially stand the risk of dealing with procedures gone wrong. While this is not something you anticipate the legal implications may be extreme. This necessitates for medical malpractice insurance to indemnify you from the consequences of presumed physical harm on the patient.

Insurance covers you on a rainy day. You may have had a successful career as a dentist spanning many years. Yet one unintended mistake could land you into legal and financial quandary. This then affirms the need to have medical malpractice insurance. 

Malpractice insurance covers dentists from mental anguish, property damage, and bodily injury. You will undoubtedly dread the experience in case you ever get sued for negligence.

Dentists get sued for varying reasons. 

1. Failure to get consent

Consent is one of the reasons that may lead to legal consequences. If, as a dentist, you proceed to treat a patient without obtaining prior consent you could be in trouble.

2. Failure to Refer the Patient to a Specialist 

Dentists are challenged to refer patients with critical medical conditions to a specialist. Your failure to refer the patient to a specialist may land you into the murky legal waters. Such incidences are frequent, where the dentist is unwilling to admit incompetence.

3. Improper Extraction

No one is saying that you are unskilled, but accidents happen. And when they do, even the most qualified dentists may seem like greenhorns straight from college. You'll undoubtedly get a legal backlash for such acts of unprofessionalism.

4. The failure Diagnose

You may also land in trouble if you fail to undertake necessary diagnostic procedures. The process may seem mundane, but if as a dentist this is not part of your consideration, you may end up facing legal consequences. You may need to diagnose and treat any underlying pre-condition that may present a hazard to the patient.

5. Complications from Anesthesia

Another concern that may lead to dentist medical malpractice relates to the use of anesthesia. You may end up facing legal backlash if your use of anesthesia on a patient has negative implications.

6. Bodily Injury 

Your patient is your responsibility. You may be accused of medical malpractice if your patients slip, fall, or get cuts during the procedure. This shows how hazardous the career can be.  

Do I Need Malpractice Insurance?

You probably feel worried by now. It seems like anything, and everything around you has the potential to create a legal loophole. Worry not, with a dentist medical malpractice insurance, you’re safe.

You may regret your indecision on taking up medical malpractice insurance. In case any of the six scenarios ever happen, all will not be lost. You may end up with a tainted reputation, but your financial status may be unscathed if you have a cover. 

Malpractice insurance for dentists is not a legal requirement per se. So technically dentists are not under obligation to indemnify their practice. However, you stand a considerable risk if you don’t have malpractice insurance.  

Despite the presumption of innocence, if a patient files for malpractice, you’ll need a lawyer. Regardless of how the legal process ends, the cost of legal representation can be overwhelming. Do not wait until it’s too late.

So what options do you have? Let’s examine the different types of dental malfunction insurance.

1. Occurrence Malpractice Insurance Policy 

This policy covers you for all events that occurred while the agreement was in effect. You, therefore, still get compensation in case you cancel your policy in the future. Working with a reliable insurance provider who guarantees occurrence malpractice insurance policy can be a critical advantage for you. 

2. State Patient Compensation Fund 

You only need to make an annual payment to the fund as prepayment for unforeseen risks. Many states in the USA have gradually set caps on the extent of liability dentist's bear. But at times, the claimant may make absurd financial demands.

The PCF acts as a caution against such extremes. This means that it is not a replacement for malpractice insurance. The fund cautions you in case the insurer is unable to pay huge claims.

3. Claims Made Malpractice Insurance

The claims policy is the opposite of the occurrence plan. You are only covered by this policy as long as the claim was made when the policy was in place.   If the policy timeline has lapsed, then you no longer enjoy malpractice insurance.

You may need to consider a trusted insurance partner before settling on a cover. The cost of malpractice insurance depends on the policy you settle on. Other factors such as the number of patients you handle, the size of the facility, and your practice history also matter.  

What Does the Dentist Malpractice Insurance Cover?

Glad you asked. Depending on your insurance provider, the insurance for dental business may cover a wide range of areas. This coverage serves to show the benefits of malpractice insurance. 

If you have a dentist's malpractice insurance cover, your attorney's fees and court costs are covered. In case of an arbitration, the price of arbitration costs falls within the insurance coverage. You also need not worry about the settlement costs.

Dentist medical coverage also covers the punitive compensation damages agreed upon. In case the claimant needs medical attention, the insurance cover also caters for the necessary procedure.   

Consider Medical Malpractice Insurance For That Rainy Day

Dentistry can be rewarding when things are working. But in case of an unanticipated claim, you may be thrown off balance legally and financially. Having a cover that can protect you during such times gives you the confidence to function optimally. 

If you are looking for a team that can provide the best medical malpractice insurance solutions, contact us, we won’t disappoint.

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