What Is Allied Healthcare Professional Liability Insurance?

Allied healthcare professional liability insurance provides coverage for medical professionals who are not physicians, such as nurses, physical therapists, and dentists.

Understanding Allied Healthcare Professional Liability Insurance

Allied healthcare professional liability insurance is designed to provide coverage for the many non-physician healthcare workers who provide a wide range of medical services. These include nurses, physicians’ assistants, midwives, dentists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and medical technicians. For a full list of healthcare professions covered, be sure to shop around.

For example, an insured occupational therapist working in the home of an elderly patient with mobility issues leaves the room briefly and returns to find the patient on the floor with a bruised hip. The family of the patient sues the healthcare worker for negligence, claiming that if the worker had stayed in the room, the injury could have been prevented. The healthcare worker’s allied healthcare professional liability insurance policy provides coverage during the lawsuit.

Allied healthcare professional liability insurance is often marketed through industry associations, which offer advantageous premium pricing and coverage by creating a larger pool of insured.

What's Covered

Most policies provide limits of liability ranging from $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 for incidents occurring in the place of work or in a patient’s home. Supplemental coverage will include damages incurred to patient property, pay for lost earnings, and medical payments. There are also policies available for part-time medical service providers.

These healthcare professional liability policies have evolved with new technologies that now enable patient data sharing. Comprehensive policies address the broad range of new risks faced by practitioners across care services and medical sectors. In addition to professional liability exposures, a comprehensive policy will cover healthcare data protection risks and the business risks associated with non-compliance with HIPAA billing legislation.

For example, HIPAA electronic medical records privacy rules allow healthcare providers to use or disclose patient health information, such as diagnostic images, laboratory tests, diagnoses, and other medical information for treatment purposes without the patient's authorization. But with the advent of social media, the risks for medical professionals have increased and there is more gray area when interpreting the existing rules.

Social Media Risks

New risks have emerged around HIPAA compliance due to the widespread availability and usage of social media. Sharing protected health information on social media websites is not allowed and there have been several instances in recent years of nurses who violated HIPAA using social media.

Posting any protected health information on social media websites, even in closed Facebook Groups, is a serious HIPAA violation. The same applies to sharing photographs and videos of patients via messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger. Unless prior authorization has been received from a patient in writing, nurses should avoid sharing photographs and videos of patients.

These new risks are not likely to go away so it is important to make sure healthcare professional liability policies have been updated to reflect our times.