Magazine article Medical Economics

Malpractice Consult

Magazine article Medical Economics

Malpractice Consult

Article excerpt

Answers to your questions about...

Coverage for part-time practice

Q:

I'm selling my practice and plan to semiretire. If I still want to cover for colleagues, can I get malpractice coverage as a part-- time physician, or must I have full-time coverage?

A:

Discounts for part-time practice are available in some areas, but they're rapidly disappearing from the insurance scene. Some insurers actually consider part-time practice to be riskier than full-time, depending on the specialty or the services provided. So there's no guarantee that you'll get a break on your premium.

Still, it's worth shopping around for a discount. Such a policy is typically worded like this: "50 percent premium discount is available to qualifying physicians who practice an average of 20 hours or less per week. A 65 percent discount is available to qualifying physicians who practice 10 hours or less per week."

The hour limit must be taken seriously. If there is a claim and it becomes evident that you've been working more than the required limit, coverage can be denied or compromised.

If you currently have claims-made coverage, verify that part-time status won't affect free tail coverage when you fully retire.

If you plan to fill in for a doctor who'll be away for a fairly long period of time, look into locum tenens insurance. This may be provided by the other physicians insurer and will be contingent on his not practicing while the locum tenens coverage is in effect.

Make sure your responsibility is clearly spelled out in a written agreement and in the medical records of the patients you see for your colleague. Insist on a "heads up" on problematic or severely ill patients and access to necessary medical records.

Restricting the scope of your practice

Q:

I don't feel comfortable treating certain conditions in my solo family practice. …

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