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Nursing Malpractice Claims and Protection

Nursing practice can be associated with negligence and malpractice claims and lawsuits. Risks of such claims for nurses are high because of their independent decision making and functioning (Balestra, 2016; Gardenier, Thomas, & O’Rourke, 2016). Therefore, nurses require a kind of protection from such claims and suits in the form of professional liability insurance (Balestra, 2016). Interviews conducted with four nursing professionals can indicate facts and myths that nurses know regarding professional liability insurance and its types.

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It has been found that three out of four nurses, who work in different healthcare organizations, have individual insurance policies. The fourth nurse works in an organization that provides an institutional policy. In their interviews, three nurses stated that their organizations also proposed institutional insurance policies, but they decided to have an individual policy. The nurses mentioned the following reasons: an individual policy guarantees the daily coverage associated with suits, without depending on a setting; a nurse can choose a type of insurance; a nurse can control payments and prolong insurance policies independently; a nurse can be involved in any nursing activities, including volunteering while having the insurance coverage. Among these reasons, nurses mostly focused on the possibility to be protected 24 hours a day, as well as on the possibility to choose a type of insurance among the claims-made coverage and occurrence coverage.

It is possible to state that most reasons for having individual policies, which were mentioned by the interviewed nurses, are valid because the discussed aspects influence the quality of the received coverage. Only one person mentioned that the policy guarantees direct protection from lawsuits, noting that patients cannot sue against her if she has insurance. This interpretation of an insurance policy can be discussed as a misunderstanding (Balestra, 2016; Gardenier et al., 2016). That nurse who had no individual policy was also informed about its advantages, but she shared a controversial idea that patients are more inclined to sue against those nurses who have individual insurance policies. This opinion cannot be supported by facts and evidence.

Thus, interviews indicated that the nurses had limited knowledge regarding the insurance policy coverage provided by their organizations. Those nurses who used individual policies were not interested in the policies proposed by their hospitals because they followed individual plans for several years, still, they knew that such insurance was provided. It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the nurse who used the institutional policy noted that the hospital could provide insurance when there was a need, and part-time and PRN employees were also covered by this policy.

During interview sessions, the nurses noted that they needed to revise their knowledge regarding individual insurance policies to guarantee that they had selected the most appropriate variant regarding the coverage, options, payment limit, and exclusions. That woman who had no individual policy noted that she would focus on this option because there were cases when the organization could not continue the coverage within the set time limits, and some claims against nurses were uncovered. Also, it is important to pay attention to the fact that the interviews provided the interviewer with the knowledge regarding insurance types, their advantages and disadvantages, and associated myths. It was also possible to learn in what cases the institutional insurance cannot cover patients’ claims against nurses.


Balestra, M. L. (2016). Liability in emergency departments and disciplinary exposure for nurse practitioners. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(2), 80-87.

Gardenier, D., Thomas, S. L., & O’Rourke, N. C. (2016). Will full practice authority mean higher malpractice premiums for nurse practitioners? The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(2), 78-79.

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