Insuring your practice

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insuring your practice

This article is sponsored content brought to you by MIPS (Medical Indemnity Protection Society).

Practices and their practitioners can be the victim of a civil action (ie being sued). In the dental setting, negligence lawsuits concerning both a practitioner and the business are becoming more common. Although patient complaints to AHPRA will most likely link to a single practitioner, nothing stops a patient from naming both a dentist and a dentist’s practice in a civil suit when they sue you. 

You can insure your business to cover the legal defence costs of any claim made against your practice and damages a court may order a practice to pay. Practice indemnity coverage, including cyber cover, should be a part of any business risk management strategy to protect what you have worked so hard to build.

When you are setting up a private practice, professional indemnity insurance is an AHPRA requirement and a necessity to protect you from the costs of claims that could lead to damages. To protect both yourself as a practitioner and your business, you can acquire two types of insurance cover, both of which you can obtain by contacting MIPS.

1. Professional indemnity insurance (to cover you as an individual practitioner)

2. Practice entity, cyber and public & product liability (to cover your business and employees)

You’re likely already familiar with professional indemnity insurance as an AHPRA requirement for undertaking practice in your profession. If you work in a public dental hospital, your employer will have likely provided indemnity insurance for you. However, for most practitioners in small or large private practices, you have to acquire this cover independently. 

When you go out on your own and start a practice, you may rely solely on your professional indemnity insurance. MIPS’ cover provides limited cover for your administrative staff, assistants and sole practitioners (policy from 1 July 2021). However, this cover is not designed for more complex practices that employ multiple dentists and as your practice grows you may need to consider practice entity insurance. Consider this example: 

For example

A person comes into your dental practice without an appointment on a day that there are no available bookings. They have some localised pain after the root canal you performed.

Despite their insistence on an appointment, your practice manager doesn’t consider it urgent as the patient does not appear to be in much pain. They refuse the patient and book an appointment for next week.

The patient endures the pain as a root canal infection spreads to their jaw, face and bloodstream. When they finally present to you, the infection is obvious and you treat them promptly. However, shortly after, the patient makes a demand for compensation against your practice and threatens legal action because you did not treat the infection earlier.

In this example, your treatment may have been technically competent, but the practice and practice manager may be liable.

There are many ways daily operations can expose practices to the risk of a claim, complaint, or legal action. For example, privacy breaches or failure in your duty of care can lead to poor patient outcomes forming the basis of a complaint. 

You can find out more about insuring your practice by visiting mips.com.au/practiceentity

The information on this page is a summary and does not take into account your healthcare practice or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information and read the Member Handbook Combined PDS and FSG before making a decision on whether to join MIPS.

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