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While pediatrics is not considered a high-risk specialty, and pediatricians are sued less than other physicians, approximately 33 percent of pediatricians are sued in their career. When a pediatrician is sued for negligence, the case is often more difficult to defend because of the sympathy factor that is always present regardless of the facts of the case. And because injured children live longer today due to medical advances, the life care plans put forth by plaintiff's counsel can often result in very large settlements and verdicts. Noneconomic damage caps do not help much when the plaintiff is a severely injured child.
Pediatric malpractice insurance rates are fairly similar to those of family practitioners due to the fact that neither specialty carries any real extraordinary risk. Rates run less than $10,000 per year in states like Idaho up to around $50,000 in are like Miami, Florida and around $40,000 in Chicago, Illinois.
Pediatricians joining an existing practice can benefit from the group's membership of many associations, whether the group is with The Doctors' Company or another carrier, there are associations which can bring the cost of insurance down.
In Florida, for example, almost every County Medical Society endorses The Doctors' Company: The Doctors' Company works with the following medical specialties, in addition to Pediatrics; Otolaryngology; Neurological Surgeons, American College of Cardiology, College of Physicians, Surgeons, Plastic Surgeons, Hospital Society of Medicine, UHC Consortium
Professional liability discounts for new practitioners, part-timers and those who have excellent past claims history:
Professional Liability underwritten by The Medical Protective Company unless otherwise indicated. is licensed in all states and the District of Columbia.
The Doctors' Company and Medical Protective are both leaders in the industry, and are constantly working hard to further the practice of good medicine. The Doctors' Company started the patient safety foundation, and Medical Protective works hard to build partners within the medical community as well, studying data, building models based upon what we learn from claims and utilization review meetings.
A recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that the only type of medical care in which children were more likely that adults to experience a potentially preventable malpractice -related event involved diagnostics. Inadequate communication in most frequently the root cause of diagnostic error.
One of the areas where The Doctors' Company works the hardest is understanding errors that result from Medication
Medications can be a source of errors resulting in patient injury and liability. This was clearly illustrated recently in The Doctors' Company Newsletter, The Advocate: This is a fantastic resource for physicians insured by The Doctors' Company.
The error in medication involved a child suffering from respiratory problems. The physician prescribed Hydrocortisone: The child died from respiratory depression.
The report in the Advocate recounts: An FDA Alert indicating reports of life-threatening events in children taking Tussionex had been issued the week before the prescribing event occurred. The manufacturer's had sent warnings and pharmacy alerts…in spite of the pharmacy alert and the physicians desk letter, the pharmacist filled the prescription of Tussionex (a Hydrocortisone) and the child had a tragic adverse reaction.
Risk Managementguidelines almost always promote increase in communication: Communication can decrease errors.
That is pretty much the trivial, simple, but challenging reality. The more protocol and process there is around communication, the better the risk management and the more favorable the results. Systems and practices that increase communication can decrease errors related to diagnosis and thereby decrease a pediatrician's liability exposure.
When formulating risk management strategies for pediatric patients, it is important to talk in plain, understandable terms to the patients and their families.
It is important, especially with symptoms of meningitis and appendicitis; and, to learn and to not underestimate the challenge of family language barriers and cultural differences.
Verbal and nonverbal signals can create an initial impression that can either encourage or discourage the communication process. Most pediatricians have been trained to assess their patients through a combination of the child's self-reporting and observation of behavioral responses. However, this process must extend beyond the patient.
Parents who perceive that the physician is distracted, trying to rush dialogue or is not valuing the parent's input, can feel as though there is an adversarial relationship being fostered between parent and doctor. This tension can hinder the clinician's efforts at diagnosis as well as foster a more litigious attitude should there be an adverse outcome.
Children are more susceptible to medication errors because drug dosages for children are calculated on a per weight basis that is a significantly different from calculating dosages for adults. A computation error can result in significant under or over-dosage. One of the frighteningly common medication safety issues in regard to children is the "then-fold error", where a misplaced decimal point can lead to a ten-fold change in the appropriate dosage of medication.
Key to pediatricians avoiding malpractice lawsuits hinge on patient-physician-parent communication and accuracy when prescribing medication. Both hazards can be mitigated when proper diligence is placed upon formulating risk management policies and procedures to eliminate these errors.
The FDA introduced the Safe Use Initiative in 2009 to create and facilitate public and private collaborations within the health care community. Its goal is to identify specific, preventable medication risks and then develop and implement interventions to promote safe medication use.
In collaboration with the FDA's Safe Use Initiative, the Physicians Desk network and medical Liability carriers like Med Pro and TDC launched a national Know the Label campaign early in 2011. Because almost 25 percent of drugs have clinically relevant changes made to their FDA-approved labels annually, it is difficult for busy physicians to keep up with label changes for medications.
The campaign allows physicians to earn free continuing medical education (CME) credits for reviewing the FDA-approved labeling for drugs they most commonly prescribe. We encourage our members to join the PDR Alert Network to receive FDA Drug Alerts and label changes via e-mail. Physicians can earn free CME credits for reading Alerts and label changes and taking a short online test on their content. PDR Network hosts the CME programs, and The Doctors Company provides the CME credits.
For more information, contact us or fill out the form to receive customized Pediatrician Medical Malpractice Insurance quote.