Your medical practice provides vital services to the community, helping people stay healthy and caring for them when they are ill. Whether you are a doctor, dentist, chiropractor, or optometrist, some of your office’s daily responsibilities — like managing patient records or storing medications — come with unique risks. That’s why you need to safeguard your staff, finances, and reputation. Here are some key ways you can better protect your medical office.
- Assess your operation for risk:
- Workspaces: Make sure your treatment areas, labs, waiting rooms, and all other areas that see regular employee and patient traffic are free of clutter. Clearly mark steps and entrances, and clean up spills as soon as possible. Establish and communicate protocols to handle hazardous materials, needles, and samples, and to move and lift patients. Make sure your staff understand these guidelines and follow them.
- Compliance: Maintaining safety and privacy regulations is critical to avoiding — or successfully defending against — litigation. Make sure you stay up to date on HIPAA, OSHA, and other standards.
- Culture: Managing risk is easier when you adopt a culture of safety. Make it part of your mission, your daily routine, and your business identity. Hire staff members who are in line with your culture, and meet with them regularly to collect feedback and discuss potential concerns.
- Make communication a priority:
- Within the organization: Build your workflow around providing and acting on current information. Training is a key part of communication: Ensure that everyone involved in patient care is kept up to date regarding changes in treatment, schedules, and care protocols.
- With patients: Misdiagnosis is often a byproduct of poor patient communication. Encourage patients to speak up about all symptoms, however seemingly insignificant, and to provide a full medical history. And make sure you give them the time and opportunity to share the details.
Explain concerns, treatment options — and even mistakes — in real time. Establishing trust is a two-way street, and making the patient a partner in his or her treatment can help you avoid misdiagnoses and other errors — as well as reduce medical professional claims.
- Have the right insurance coverage:
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for treating patients or protecting your business. Depending on the size and type of your practice, a business owner’s policy (BOP) or commercial package policy, both of which include property and general liability coverage, could meet most of your needs. These insurance options can cover such property as your medical office, equipment, and furniture. This coverage can also help protect you from liability if you are involved in certain types of claims or lawsuits — for example, if a customer slips and falls at your office and suffers an injury. Here are some other important coverages to consider for your medical office.
- Business interruption: If you are unable to see patients due to a fire, storm, or other covered cause of loss, insurance can help cover expenses and replace lost income until you are back up and running. Make sure you understand how long coverage lasts after a loss and the monetary amount it covers.
- Electronic data: If an accident or error causes you to lose electronic data, including systems and software, insurance can cover the cost to restore or replace it.
- Equipment breakdown: This coverage helps protect heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration equipment in the event of mechanical failure. Insurance can cover repair or replacement, and can also cover lost income during a temporary shutdown, and extra expenses to continue your business.
- Medical professional equipment: You rely on specialized equipment and tools to provide quality care to your patients. This insurance can cover the medical and dental equipment, instruments, tools, and supplies you use every day. Coverage can also protect the journals and texts that help you stay current with treatment best practices.
- Spoilage: Insurance can cover replacement costs if perishable supplies that you own or that are owned by others but in your care or control are ruined or contaminated due to a loss of power or other breakdown at your location.
- Valuable papers: In addition to your equipment and tools, your practice depends on records, films, and books to treat patients. This insurance can cover costs to replace or recreate these items.
The above coverages can typically be included as part of a BOP or commercial package offering, but options and limits vary by insurer, so talk to your independent agent to find out more.
Added Protection for Your Medical Office
There are other coverages you may need to safeguard your business. For example, how would your business fare if it suffered a data breach or faced a large lawsuit? Here are some options to consider to protect other aspects of your operation.
- Cyber: Protecting patients’ private information is a critical responsibility, but accidents happen. If sensitive data is lost or exposed, insurance covers costs to alert affected individuals, manage public relations, and defend you in a lawsuit.
- Medical professional liability: General liability insurance can help protect your operation against slip-and-fall injuries and other accidents on your premises. However, you should also consider medical professional liability to cover the costs associated with malpractice claims.
- Umbrella: If you face a large claim or lawsuit, insurance can provide additional protection above your standard general liability coverage.
- Workers compensation: Your employees are the heart of your operation, providing care while calming patient worries. But lifting patients and giving shots comes with risk. If an employee suffers an injury or illness, workers compensation coverage provides important financial protection and return-to-work support.
If you’re unsure about your medical practice’s exposure or the extent of your coverage, reach out to your independent agent today. Or visit our website to learn more about Liberty Mutual Insurance’s coverage for healthcare businesses.
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