Professional and General Liability for Surgery Centers Medical Malpractice

April 06, 2018

Surgery Centers will occasionally make the mistake of thinking that they only need to obtain one category of insurance. Commercial, Property and General Liability Insurance. It is important to purchase both Surgery Centers General Liability AND Professional Liability Insurance.

General Liability and Business Property Insurance

Combines general liability and business property insurance for your business (sometimes referred to as a “BOP”). This insurance covers certain losses resulting from property damage, suspended operations and liability resulting from bodily injury or property damage to others. Worker's Comp, Commercial Auto, and Umbrella policies often join the general liability and property policies to form a "Commercial Package."

Professional and General Liability Insurance

Normally, it is less expensive to ask your professional liability insurance carrier to add General to their Professional limit (the jargon in the industry used to describe this is: they will add a separate ‘tower’ of insurance:

One to cover the slip and fall and premises claims and the other to cover your organization if they are named vicariously in a claim for medical negligence.

I assume your surgery center has the Professional Liability to cover you for Vicarious Liability

Liability for the acts of someone else. Examples of this are when healthcare facilities share in medical malpractice claims with the physicians contracted to use their business and building (and staff).

Healthcare facilities, Surgery Centers, MediSpas, Endoscopy Centers, and Hospitals, can be held liable for the actions of its employees and other healthcare providers who provide services under the auspices of the business, but each case is circumstantial.

The argument does not always hold up, but the facility is often (usually) named in the claim along with the independent physician or healthcare worker contracted or employed.

A qualified health care professional with privileges to admit and treat patients and named in a surgical malpractice claim (and / or who makes an error) may be responsible for their own actions. And, the Surgery center or HCO facility is often dismissed from the claim after the facts of the case come out (but it is expensive and important work required to get that desired result).

If the facility is responsible (employs and carefully supervises) the health care professional, it might also hold responsibility for any injuries that professional causes. These facilities also have a “corporate liability” to maintain competent workers who have received the proper education and training, and who retain the proper credentials for practicing medicine.

The legal doctrine respondeat superior holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees that they are able to control. Translated literally, the doctrine means “let the master answer”. Though sometimes the employer may be found at fault for failing to train, supervise, or monitor an employee who committed negligence, liability in these cases is not always necessarily based on any wrongdoings of the employer.

A healthcare facility can be held liable for the negligent actions of fully qualified and competent healthcare professionals, for errors like:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Surgical mistake
  • Failing to properly monitor a patient
  • Medication errors including failing to administer, wrong dosage, and untimely administration
  • Failing to report symptoms
  • Failing to follow-up with a patient