What is Malpractice Insurance for Nurses?

Laura M. Sands

Malpractice insurance for nurses offers financial protection against lawsuits naming a nurse as a defendant. While most are familiar with doctors carrying malpractice insurance, such is equally important for nurses who are also held closely responsible for a patient’s care. In most parts of the world, malpractice insurance for nurses is offered to licensed nurses and in many places it is also offered to students enrolled in nursing degree programs. In fact, some nursing programs require students to carry nursing malpractice insurance prior to being accepted into training.

Some nursing programs require students to carry nursing malpractice insurance before training can even begin.
Some nursing programs require students to carry nursing malpractice insurance before training can even begin.

Without malpractice insurance for nurses, individual nurses may be held liable for the payment of attorney and court settlement costs if ever applicable. Even in the event of a fraudulent or a baseless lawsuit, a nurse is required to file a legal response to a suit’s claims, which results in attorney fees and filing costs, whether or not the case against her or him is eventually dismissed. When a nurse is personally named in a malpractice claim, associated attorney fees, filing fees and other court costs are likely to be personally burdensome, which is why industry experts recommend malpractice insurance for nurses.

Many nursing schools require that students purchase malpractice medical insurance.
Many nursing schools require that students purchase malpractice medical insurance.

Also known as professional liability insurance, malpractice insurance for nurses can be purchased from a private insurance brokerage or from a professional nursing membership organization. The amount of nursing malpractice insurance needed is often a personal choice and is decided upon between the nurse and an insurance broker. Experts, however, generally recommend a minimum coverage amount of $1 million US Dollars (USD).

Any nurse who has contact with patients will be encouraged to have malpractice insurance.
Any nurse who has contact with patients will be encouraged to have malpractice insurance.

Some have argued that specialized nurses, such as certified registered nurse anesthetists, who are usually supervised by a licensed physician, may not require as much malpractice insurance for nurses since the burden of responsibility in malpractice claims lies primarily with the supervising physician. Whether or not this argument is accurate, most experts agree that such nurses should still carry some level of nursing malpractice insurance anyway. Insurance rates for specialized nurses such as these may sometimes be less than others because the level of responsibility is also deemed to be less.

Without malpractice insurance, nurses may be held liable for attorney and court settlement costs.
Without malpractice insurance, nurses may be held liable for attorney and court settlement costs.

Licensed professionals are not the only ones encouraged to carry malpractice insurance for nurses. Nursing students may also purchase liability insurance and many nursing schools require that students do so. This is largely due to the fact that nurses in clinical training experience real world contact with patients and, thus, may bear a certain amount of liability if patient care goes awry.

Malpractice insurance for nurses may protect against patient injuries sustained from improper lifting.
Malpractice insurance for nurses may protect against patient injuries sustained from improper lifting.

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