Malpractice and mistakes are aplenty in the home healthcare industry. Here’s how you, as a service provider, can prepare for instances capable of running your business into the ground.
Both individual home healthcare aides and agency home healthcare providers need liability and malpractice insurance to reduce the impact of claims made by patients. When providing home healthcare, there are certain unforeseen instances that could occur.
For instance, you may be accused of negligence if you aren’t fully aware of a certain patient’s special needs. Most often, patients don’t disclose information voluntarily, and sometimes it may slip your mind to ask certain questions. If you prepare food with peanuts for a patient with a peanut allergy, he or she may accuse you of negligence. In such an event, a court may rule in favor of a financial settlement, which can deeply impact your business if you don’t have liability/malpractice insurance.
How malpractice occurs in home healthcare
Operating a home healthcare practice comes with serious risks. After all, the lives of senior, serious patients are in your hands. On most days, your home healthcare agency may thrive on great results, but businesses – small or big – need to plan for the worst-case scenario.
Sometimes, it’s not possible to keep watch over award 24/7. Your patient may slip over a dislodged board in the house or may trip over a folded carpet. In such an instance, the patient’s family may claim damages from the home healthcare aide or provider.
When your business deals with life and death situations, death is always a real possibility. Even if your practice is very small and limited to a few patients, emergencies happen. Geriatric and patients with malignant illnesses can experience life-threatening events at any moment. Home healthcare aides need to be prepared to make sound decisions under pressure in such situations. However, even in the case of younger, more healthy patients, there’s always the risk that a life may be lost. This could result in malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death lawsuits of which your business may not be able to bear the burden.
Doctors and surgeons offer advice and treatment all the time. Even so, they can be wrong sometimes. Even if they’re right, there’s always the possibility of a patient misunderstanding or misinterpreting a medical practitioner’s words. Despite your best efforts, the decisions of your patient and the success or failure of your treatment plan could come back to hurt your business. That’s why, especially in small businesses, it’s commonplace to opt for liability/malpractice insurance.
Before we delve into liability/malpractice insurance and how it works, let’s understand more about home healthcare aides and their responsibilities. This can help you understand better how malpractice typically occurs and what can be done to counteract such events.
What is a home health aide? How does their work increase risks of liability?
Many of the senior citizens who are disabled or suffering from serious disorders prefer staying at home, to retain their independence and old lives. Home healthcare aides are the trained healthcare providers who enable such elders to continue living at home while receiving the care they need.
Caring for geriatric patients is tough. Home healthcare aides and agencies are expected to take care of all their needs, from transport to nutrition, medication reminders, and response in emergency situations. Each of these responsibilities bears a serious risk.
For instance, in geriatric patients suffering from multiple disorders, managing nutrition can be tricky. Physicians may offer advice on food groups to focus on and avoid, but it’s always possible for the patient to react in an unexpected manner to the food. In such an event, the blame may be shifted onto the shoulders of the home healthcare provider.
Sometimes, patients also have adverse and unexpected reactions to medication. This may result in an emergency situation that a home healthcare aide is expected to manage. Emergency situations are unpredictable, and can sometimes result in a death, which can attract a wrongful death lawsuit.
What is home health aide liability/malpractice insurance? How does it work?
There are two major types of insurance for home healthcare providers, namely Professional Liability insurance and General Liability insurance. They both address different types of claims, all of which have an equal probability of occurring. That’s why it makes sense for a home healthcare provider to consider getting both.
Professional liability insurance for home healthcare providers
The professional liability insurance protects subscribers from claims that challenge the scope of their responsibilities and how they have been performed. For instance, a client could suggest that you put peanuts in their meal which caused an allergic reaction. They could challenge that it was part of your responsibility to be aware of and cater to their special needs.
In such an event, the professional liability insurance will cover your legal fees and settlement if one is awarded. In this case, the victim may claim a settlement for the medical bills arising from the consequence of your negligence.
General liability insurance for home healthcare providers
The general liability insurance is focused on elements such as third-party bodily harm and property damage which aren’t directly related to your professional responsibilities.
For instance, when working at a client’s home, you may have accidentally dropped a family heirloom, causing it to shatter. The client may ask you to pay for damages. The general liability insurance covers claims such as this one.
There are several options that you could consider for home healthcare liability insurance. When evaluating the options, consider what’s being covered by the insurance and the premium cost.
When working in an industry such as the home healthcare industry where mistakes can result in costly consequences, it makes sense to consider insurance. Both individual and agency-based home healthcare providers can benefit from investing in home healthcare insurance.