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Is malpractice insurance needed for medicolegal/expert witness work?

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  • Is malpractice insurance needed for medicolegal/expert witness work?

    Could not find a definitive answer to this on the website or forums. If one starts to do medicolegal work (expert witness, independent medial examination, etc.), do they need to purchase an individual malpractice insurance? I am employed by a medical group and pretty sure the group malpractice insurance will not cover outside activities.

  • #2
    Originally posted by WanderingMD View Post
    Could not find a definitive answer to this on the website or forums. If one starts to do medicolegal work (expert witness, independent medial examination, etc.), do they need to purchase an individual malpractice insurance? I am employed by a medical group and pretty sure the group malpractice insurance will not cover outside activities.
    Not sure. My chart review job did require separate policy, wasn't too expensive they limited the coverage.

    ​​​​​​Id talk to your current insurer first and check

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    • #3
      No. You have no doctor/patient relationship and can not be sued for malpractice.

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      • #4
        your malpractice carrier will certainly not cover you.

        doesn't this topic come up every few years? I thought the answer was errors and omissions insurance?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ScopeMonkey View Post
          No. You have no doctor/patient relationship and can not be sued for malpractice.
          There are other bases for legal actions. I suppose this c/b a contract between the atty and the doctor. This is one I’d check with a doctor contract atty on. I can think of one client who does this as a side hustle who has his/her own ins, but s/he may simply be hyper-cautious, as many doctors are.
          Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory and ignorant advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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          • #6
            The only negative consequences I have heard about with respect to expert work is by the specialty societies. If you testify for a plaintiff and give erroneous testimony that is not consistent with established standards of care, you can be censured or kicked out of the specialty societies. I have seen this reported in our specialty society newsletters on a few occasions in the past.

            There should not be any risk of a lawsuit from expert work because you are not providing care for a patient.

            You also could be cited by a judge for contempt of court. I heard of one judge who cited a physician expert when the doctor refused to make reasonable accommodations to appear in court in accordance with the judge’s schedule for the trial.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by White.Beard.Doc View Post
              You also could be cited by a judge for contempt of court. I heard of one judge who cited a physician expert when the doctor refused to make reasonable accommodations to appear in court in accordance with the judge’s schedule for the trial.
              Lol sounds about right..

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              • #8
                I appreciate everyone's input. I am new to this and my institution has asked me whether I will be using their malpractice coverage and I did not know the answer.

                Originally posted by G View Post
                your malpractice carrier will certainly not cover you.

                doesn't this topic come up every few years? I thought the answer was errors and omissions insurance?
                Any advice on where to seek such insurance? Is that a supplemental coverage added to the malpractice insurance?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by WanderingMD View Post
                  I appreciate everyone's input. I am new to this and my institution has asked me whether I will be using their malpractice coverage and I did not know the answer.

                  Any advice on where to seek such insurance? Is that a supplemental coverage added to the malpractice insurance?
                  Again, you don’t need malpractice insurance because providing an opinion when there is no doctor patient relationship does not constitute providing medical care. There is no medical malpractice risk because you are not providing care. You are only providing an opinion about the care provided by others.

                  I find it weird that your institution is asking about malpractice coverage for this role as it doesn’t involve patient care.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by White.Beard.Doc View Post

                    Again, you don’t need malpractice insurance because providing an opinion when there is no doctor patient relationship does not constitute providing medical care. There is no medical malpractice risk because you are not providing care. You are only providing an opinion about the care provided by others.

                    I find it weird that your institution is asking about malpractice coverage for this role as it doesn’t involve patient care.
                    The patient can make a medical board complaint if you are registered as a medical practitioner and you maybe required to reply, even if the complaint is vexatious.

                    The main risk (although hopefully very rare) with this type of work I would have thought, would be that you testify against a patient and they decide to target you. Although you may keep your residential address private, they could go to your work location. I remember reading a case of an orthopaedic surgeon who was shot and killed by a disgruntled plaintiff.

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                    • #11
                      not needed

                      complaints or action based on expert witness testimony are vanishingly rare

                      definitely it is not the case where an expert says something crazy and is censured.

                      remember that in court as an expert you are offering an opinion. if you are severely allergic to zosyn and have anaphylaxed and i insist that you received 4.5g IV that is malpractice. if i stand in front of a bunch of people and say that your allergy is false or not important, that is an opinion.

                      it's a crazy opinion but it is my opinion. opinions, even completely insane ones, are not illegal and it's impossible to say that they are wrong. many of our friends benefit from this fact in other areas, such as the people who think that the USA is run by lizard aliens wearing masks. that's kind of how this works.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dont_know_mind View Post

                        I remember reading a case of an orthopaedic surgeon who was shot and killed by a disgruntled plaintiff.
                        I assume you are referring to the tragedy that took place in Desert Hot Springs, California. This was actually a disgruntled patient who shot and killed the doctor. At the time, the orthopaedic doctor was being sued by another patient. This other patient/plaintiff ran into the doctor and shook his hand, telling him that his lawsuit against the doc "was just business". But another patient, not the plaintiff, had lost his wife. His back pain got worse after undergoing surgery, so he decided to visit the doctors office where he shot the surgeon and then shot himself.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by White.Beard.Doc View Post

                          I assume you are referring to the tragedy that took place in Desert Hot Springs, California. This was actually a disgruntled patient who shot and killed the doctor. At the time, the orthopaedic doctor was being sued by another patient. This other patient/plaintiff ran into the doctor and shook his hand, telling him that his lawsuit against the doc "was just business". But another patient, not the plaintiff, had lost his wife. His back pain got worse after undergoing surgery, so he decided to visit the doctors office where he shot the surgeon and then shot himself.
                          I was thinking of a different case of a surgeon being shot after an expert opinion about a work back injury case.

                          I think the expert testimony area is higher personal risk than most people realise. In psychiatry, I think if you do enough of them, you will get some medical board complaints.

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                          • #14
                            You could probably get some free advice by calling your current malpractice carrier or broker. Ask whether there is any insurance needed or even available.

                            If someone were to sue you for defamation for saying that their care was substandard, then your umbrella should cover you. The same, I assume, if the other side were to sue you for saying that the care was appropriate.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by afan View Post
                              You could probably get some free advice by calling your current malpractice carrier or broker. Ask whether there is any insurance needed or even available.

                              If someone were to sue you for defamation for saying that their care was substandard, then your umbrella should cover you. The same, I assume, if the other side were to sue you for saying that the care was appropriate.
                              Umbrella is property coverage.
                              Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory and ignorant advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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