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Hospitals Forgoing Medical Malpractice Insurance?

The New York Times reported this week on a troubling trend involving some of the largest (and most mistake-prone) facilities to simply forgo all medical malpractice insurance coverage. The story looked specifically at New York City facilities which were partially or completely without malpractice insurance. Obviously, having this protection is a standard safeguard–for the facility and its patients.

Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm understands the harm that will ultimately be borne by unsuspecting patients if these sort of strategies are widely employed.

Many of the hospitals–which are often in poor neighborhoods–claim that they cannot afford the premiums or prefer to use the money they would pay to cover other liabilities. some insurance experts apparently support the decision in the short term. Yet even supporters admit that the move is obviously not in the best interest of patients. Sadly,our medical malpractice lawyers recognize this move as yet another in a string of actions involving hospital profits placed above patient welfare.

For example, one legal professor whose work focuses on medical malpractice insurance noted that “from a social perspective, it’s very irresponsible. They’re taking in these people knowing they’re not able to make good on the harm they caused. Even a really good hospital is going to have a certain amount of medical malpractice. It’s inevitable.”

Think about it this way. The law requires all automobile drivers to carry a minimum level of insurance. This is not for the benefit of the driver themselves but others on the road. If the driver causes an accident, the other drivers should have some protection. Failing to have the insurance, therefore, is socially irresponsible, because it means those who did nothing wrong but are hurt by misconduct are left without any recourse.

Sadly the problem is not relegated just to New York City. Cook County is mentioned explicitly by name in the article as a place where some medical institutions go without medical malpractice insurance.

As the story explains, hospitals in the state are not only not required to have insurance, but they do not even need to tell patients when they don’t have it. Of course all of this means that patients hurt by medical negligence will not be made aware of the hospital’s inability to provide redress until it is too late. In addition, there is no easy way to identify which hospitals do or do not have malpractice insurance. No easily accessible database on this information exists.

Some facilities try to deflect criticism of this irresponsibility by arguing that they are self-insured with reserves within the hospital to cover possible compensation following negligence. Yet, a NYT review found these claims to be dubious. Most facilities had insufficient reserves and others did not actually have any money set aside.

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are quite familiar with these complex insurance issues, as we work with residents on the often-frustrating process of collecting on a judgment even after a favorable judgment. If you have questions about these issues following an injury which may have been caused by malpractice, be sure to get in touch with legal professionals as soon as possible.

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