With mandatory legal requirements for medical malpractice insurance on the cards, some pundits predicting as early as next year, now is the time to ramp up that medical malpractice insurance purchase you’ve been thinking about.
You may be one of the lucky few practitioners who have been practising for years without malpractice insurance, and haven’t had a patient claim or complaint. But that’s the problem with luck. It tends to run out.
And if you’re a nurse, physiotherapist or other allied health professional who is or has been enjoying coverage under your employer’s insurance policy, having your own medical indemnity coverage is equally vital.
Today, patients in Malaysia have an increasing expectation on health care, with trends indicating a growing lack of acceptance of adverse events in medicine. This trend is further evidenced by the rise in patient litigation over recent years.
According to the Civil Division of the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers, the average number of medical negligence cases has risen by 46.8% in the five years from 2007 to 2011 compared to 2002-06. 
So if you’re thinking about purchasing medical malpractice insurance, here are eight policy essentials to take note of:
Claims cover provides protection if you fail to follow the accepted standards of care of your professional area of expertise, resulting in harm to your patient from medical negligence.
Despite your best efforts, even the most sophisticated systems can malfunction and cause patient injury, resulting in varying patient claims in malpractice cases.
- Medico-legal complaints
A medico-legal complaint occurs when a practitioner’s decision-making, conduct or communication skills is questioned.
While the process can take years to resolve and have a significant personal and professional impact, having coverage in your policy ensures a professional and speedy approach in handling the outcome.
- Good Samaritan Acts
Although there is no legal duty of care for medical professionals to act under law for emergent attention to a member of the general public, you do have an ethical duty to provide healthcare assistance and as a result, owe a standard of care to the person receiving such care.
Good Samaritan Acts coverage helps protect you when you provide care in emergency situations so you can focus entirely on the needs of the patient.
- Vicarious liability
Vicarious liability assigns liability for patient injury to you, if you have a legal relationship to the person who caused the injury. For example, if an employed staff member causes patient injury, you may be held legally liable and responsible.
Having vicarious liability cover means you’re protected for patient injury, even when it’s out of your control.
- Unintentional intellectual property infringement
If you’re working in research, insurance cover for unintentional intellectual property infringement is crucial.
The cover protects not only the owner of the intellectual property but also if you have unintentionally infringed upon intellectual property rights.
- Automatic run-off cover
Run-off cover protects you from any future liabilities once you cease medical practice, either via retirement or otherwise,. An example could be that you may have treated a patient prior to retirement but who then lodges a complaint after you have retired.
Run-off coverage may extend to months or even years, but keep in mind it doesn’t protect you if you engage in medical practice during your retirement or period of absence from the medical profession.
- Legal representation costs
Sometimes the defence costs associated with a malpractice case can be substantial. Having access to legal representation costs means you’re covered for associated expenses such as legal fees and won’t need to be out-of-pocket.
- Optional extensions
When purchasing an indemnity insurance policy, some policies can offer optional extensions. The Chubb Elite Medical Malpractice Policy for example offers optional coverage for unintentional cyber and privacy infringement.
Optional extensions offer tailor-made insurance solutions to suit your professional circumstances.