Understanding Dental Malpractice Insurance for Recent Dental Graduates
When it comes to schooling for the dental profession, dental malpractice insurance and its details are not generally discussed. Graduates go into the field with no real idea on what they need.
They don’t fully know what the insurance covers, what the options are, or even what the best policies to have for their particular needs would be. The biggest misunderstanding is that you need coverage right away. If you were to wait until a claim is made, you may not be able to obtain insurance.
Dental malpractice insurance is also known as dental liability insurance. Both are the same thing, just worded differently. Learning the details and experimenting with various options for new dental graduates is often based on assumptions or a push from the insurance agency. HMBD Insurance Services has years of experience and looks out for you. We take out time and help you develop the right plan with the right options to help you succeed. Here are some details to consider as a dental graduate looking to get started in your new profession for the first time:
The Main Purpose of Dental Malpractice Insurance
No matter how great your dental talent and experience is, understand that all dentists have to deal with litigations and lawsuits. Even the best dentists with the best reviews have to face them regularly. The point here is that every dentist needs dental malpractice insurance, even if they think they are the best at what they do. Things can always go wrong and patients may have their own ideas as to what the results will be. With that in mind, patient malpractice insurance is designed to help protect your financial status by providing coverage for the various components associated with lawsuits and litigation. Since that will always be something you have to face, it is important to protect your profession.
The Two Types of Dental Malpractice Insurance
When deciding on your dental malpractice insurance, there are two types to choose from. This includes Claims-made dental policies and Occurrence insurance policies. Each one is different to some extent and offers different benefits and features.
Occurrence dental malpractice policies provide coverage for patient treatments that occur during the period of the insurance policy, no matter when the actions are taken against you. As long as the treatment occurred during the policy period, the insurance covers it. However, the policy that was active when the treatment occurred is the one that the claim is made with. The rates for this type of policy are always low for the first year. The total costs are higher for occurrence policies than claims-made policies due to their risk factors.
Claims-made policies cover you based on the current policy, not when the procedures were done on the patient, unlike occurrence policies. Therefore, the time that a claim is made–regardless of when you performed the procedures — is covered by the policy in use during that claim period. With that in mind, a claims-made policy is only in effect when it is active.
Top Reasons That Often Lead to Dental Litigation and Lawsuits
There are tons of situations that spark the need for dental malpractice insurance, which is one of the main reasons why it is so important to have.
Your patients always have their own expectations, as well as ideas as to what the results will be. In most cases, it does not match what they perceived. Their frustration leads to lawsuits or litigation that can cause headaches for you.
Incomplete/Inaccurate Medical History Data
Besides expectations, you could find out after it is too late that the patient experiences a bad side effect from medications or from something resulting from the oral care received. The point here is that you may not always get the right information, whether that is from the patient or from medical records received. In fact a lot of times, the health information you gather is from the patient, which is not always accurate enough. Many medical professionals struggle with getting health information in general from other sources on a regular basis. Therefore, you have trouble providing the best care in order to keep the patient safe. Furthermore, the medical records you receive from other professionals—if you actually succeed at getting them—are not always accurate, so it can be difficult to make the right decisions.
Complicated/Complex Dental Procedures
Since a record number of people are not routinely going to the dentist, it means more work for you. As a new dental graduate, you need to be aware of this. A lot of people wait until they experience a major problem like feeling pulsing pain in the gums or something like losing a couple teeth as they break and rot away. Since they neglect proper oral care on a regular basis, it leads to major problems that become major oral procedures.
What this means to you is that you face an increased chance at something going wrong with the procedures. You are only human and humans make mistakes or experience accidents. And even when you don’t suffer from those, you could still have a frustrated patient who expected miracles, or didn’t like a sacrifice that had to be made. No matter how much you try to explain the situations and details to a patient, they only remember the most important things to them, such as getting perfect teeth again.
If that wasn’t enough examples of reasons to have dental malpractice insurance, here is another one. A dental repair plan may require several visits to complete due to the complexity of issues and your patient may not understand this and expect it all to be done in one visit. What this means is that they end up causing litigation that you don’t want to deal with, but have to. That costs money. An insurance policy from HMBD will help keep you protected, even in the litigation process.