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My employer has advised me not to carry any malpractice insurance because I am covered by the hospital. This is scary for me. What do you think?

Monday May 6, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I am a licensed RN with a masterís and certification as a pediatric nurse practitioner. However, I do not practice as an NP, but as a staff nurse in a hospital setting. My employer has advised me not to carry any malpractice insurance. This is scary for me, as I have always had my own insurance. They have assured me I am covered by the hospital.


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Isabella,

Purchasing one's own professional liability insurance, when an employer says not to because you are covered by its insurance, is a frequent question from readers of this column. You might want to review some of those former responses to help you with your decision.

Whether or not to purchase your own policy is really an individual choice and should be made by the nurse employee and not the employer. Although one may be covered under an employer's policy, the nurse needs to know what that means, so that an informed decision as to purchasing one's own insurance can be made. As examples: What are the coverage limits of the policy? What does the employer's policy exclude? Does it provide coverage for professional disciplinary proceedings?

Your situation is also unique in that although you are an NP, your role in this facility is that of a staff nurse. This is a difficult road to walk, as one never leaves advanced education at the door when placed in a lesser position.

You might want to review some articles to help you make your own decision. Some of the many available include: National Service Organization "FAQ: Professional Liability Coverage,", Available at www.nso.com/customer-service/faq-coverage.jsp; Emergency Nurses Association, "Professional Liability And Risk Management" available on the Association's website (www.ena.org); and Carolyn Buppert's "Questions And Answers On Malpractice Insurance For Nurse Practitioner" Advanced Practice Nursing Journal. Available at www.medscape.com/viewarticle/520660.

Speak with your colleagues to determine what their position is on purchasing one's own professional liability policy.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.