Magazine article Medical Economics

Experts Warn: Never Keep Your Carrier in the Dark

Magazine article Medical Economics

Experts Warn: Never Keep Your Carrier in the Dark

Article excerpt

We asked several attorneys and liability insurance executives for their reactions to the accompanying article. While they agreed that small claims should be dealt with expediently, they stressed that you should never settle any dispute with a patient without first contacting your malpractice insurer.

"The patient's attorney doesn't represent you, nor is he or she obligated to consider your best interests or provide you with legal advice," says David Karp, loss prevention manager at Medical Insurance Exchange of California, based in Oakland. "Contacting your insurer, on the other hand, guarantees that the case will go through peer review before any action is taken.

"If you fear that the carrier won't handle the claim adequately or will overreact to it, you ought to find another insurer. Pronto."

Worse, these experts say, some medical malpractice carriers can refuse coverage if you don't tell them about a claim you paid out of pocket. "If the patient reneges on the settlement agreement or a court finds that it's unenforceable, you may be sadly surprised to learn that you've voided your coverage,"says James Lewis Griffith Sr., a malpractice attorney in Philadelphia.

"Work with your carrier," he urges. "If it thinks it's in your best interest to settle, then you can decide whether to use your own funds."

However, while out-of-pocket payments aren't reportable to the National Practitioner Data Bank, you may have to notify your hospital's credentialing committee, your licensing board, or other accrediting agencies of any settlement. …

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