This was the topic of a column by Anthony L. DiteWitt in the February, 2011, issue of the AARC Times. He writes that Insuranse policies are like "contracts" and they only cover those who are named on the contract. In most cases, the name on the contract is not the individual RT or RN or doctors, it is the institution -- the hospital.
Most liability contracts also list the officers of the hospital, such as administrators. Yet it's rare for RNs, RTS and doctors to be listed. So then, is it essential that you as an individual care provider at a hospital get your own malpractice (liability) insurance?
He says it's up to you to decide, and then he provides some examples.
You as a worker have a personal liability to the patient. Howeve, under the law of respondeat superior, "the hospital is also accountable for the negligent acts of its employees. This is also called vicarious liability."
"In most cases the plaintiff sues the hospital because the hospital is more likely to have assets than the employee, and the hospital's policy provides coverage to the corporation for the negligent acts of its employee. But if the patient sued only the employee and did not sue the hospital, the hospital's insurer would provide no coverage to the employee. While this is rare, it can and does happen, particularly where the patient has a personal grudge or doesn't use a lawyer."Then there is indemnity and contribution.
So, what is indemnity? He defines it this way:
"Indemnity provides that where a master pays for the wrongs of his servant under respondeat superior the servant must indemnify (or repay) the master. Most hospital insurance policies provide for the insurer to seek indemnity from any liable employee. Thus, if the hospital pays $300,000 to settle a claim arising from the negligence of a therapist, the insurance company can sue the therapist for indemnity to recover what it paid. Again, while this is rare, it does occur."So what is contribution? He defines it this way:
Contribution is a separate doctrine and arises where, for example, the physician and not the hospital is sued for negligence. Suppose the physician settles a claim for $300,000 and alleges that had the therapist communicated the blood gas values to him, the harm would not have ensued. He can sue the therapist for contribution and force him to pay all or part of the amount he paid in settlement.He adds that some hospital administrators might tell you that you don't need your own malpractice insurance and yet they say this because they don't fully understand what was described above. They'll tell you that the hospital policy will protect you, yet, as you see above, that is not necessarily the truth.
The hospital lawyer is not your lawyer, he is the hospital's lawyer. "If you ask the lawyer whom he represents and he is honest, he will tell you that he represents the hospital. He may provide you with legal advice and help defend your case; but he is duty-bound to protect the hospital, and not you."