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Corporate indemnity: should I consider this for my practice?

19 November 2020

Dr Brian Charles, emergency physician based in Barbados, looks at the unique risks faced by corporate organisations – and how bespoke indemnity can help

Representation and compensation for medicolegal misadventure has traditionally been directed at doctors and, occasionally, allied professions like nursing. Though the Caribbean and Bermuda has been sheltered from legal challenges involving corporate entities managing medical practices, recently there has been a change – to follow the trends of the First World – in naming the institutions as second defendants.

There is some credence to this as the owners and managers of these institutions have been shown to bear some responsibility when a patient has suffered and deserves compensation.

Corporate indemnity with Medical Protection

Medical Protection provides corporate indemnity on a ‘claims made’ basis – ie for claims to be considered, claims and incidents must both occur and be reported during a continuous period of membership. This differs from the occurrence-based model afforded to most individual members, where cover is extended past the period of subscription.

Corporate membership is on a discretionary basis and covers the payment of compensatory damages for any claims brought against the organisation or any employee whose role is named in the membership agreement, arising from a negligent act, error or omission (this includes claimant costs).

Corporate medical malpractice indemnity can be extended to include medicolegal or dentolegal protection, specialist public relations (PR) support and retroactive cover (subject to acceptance criteria). Additional benefits also include assistance with handling complaints, assistance with managing adverse incidents, risk management advice, access to Medical Protection publications (such as Casebook), factsheets, lectures, webinars and our e-learning platform PRISM.

How exposed is an organisation?

As a legal entity, the organisation can be sued in addition to the treating clinician as a result of negligent treatment. Possible scenarios where the organisation can be accountable include:

-  poor procedures or patient management

-  lack of supervision of a practitioner by the organisation

-  system deficiencies to ensure follow up of tests

-  insufficient or poor quality training of staff

-  inappropriate treatment of referrals

Additionally, the organisation has vicarious liability for their employees – where these are not listed in the membership agreement (and therefore not covered through vicarious liability), it’s the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that anyone for whose acts the corporate entity may be liable and who is required by law to carry appropriate indemnity/insurance cover does in fact carry such appropriate protection.

Medical Protection’s corporate indemnity affords an organisation’s management the comfort of knowing that a medicolegal challenge, which can extend beyond the individual practitioner, is safeguarded against potential disastrous consequences.