“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Benjamin Franklin
Many U.S. healthcare physicians and specialists rely solely on popular policies when it comes to their personal finance and malpractice coverage, but what if that is not enough? Those umbrella and E&O policies could fail you when you need them most.
“The majority of American doctors lack any serious asset protection planning beyond their malpractice insurance.” states Ike Devji, JD
When consulting physicians on personal finance - clients entrenched in a lucrative industry threatened by compliance, HIPAA, law & malpractice - Ike Devji, JD subscribes to the notion of “Hope for the best, plan for the worst”. Many insurance and general financial advisors simply don’t know about true asset protection for high net worth clients.
In a recently published article from Physicians Practice, Devji touches on a few recent headlines that emphasize why doctors need a savvy and effectively executed multi layered asset protection program that is tailored to protect physicians from the unforeseen threats that pervade in the healthcare system.
Here’s are our top 3 takeaways from financial thought leader Ike Devji, and our favorite headlines from his recent article.
1. Smart living - avoid getting into trouble in the first place.
"Florida sheriff arrests two paramedics for degrading selfies"
Devji places this headline in the “you can’t fix stupid but you can get sued for it” category. According to a CNN news report:
Two Florida paramedics got bored one day at work, and led them to create perhaps the silliest, most disrespectful and creepy game of "selfie war" by taking pictures with patients under their care. This game lasted for months until the two were recently arrested following complaints from coworkers who received some of these “creepy selfies”.
"The defendants exchanged texts challenging each other to produce more selfies and to 'step up' their game." said Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley's office Facebook page. “Many patients were intubated, sedated, or otherwise unconscious at the time."
Both paramedics have lost their careers, but the financial backlash now facing the employer could be devastating.
“I’d expect multiple lawsuits against their employer including both potential HIPAA claims and perhaps worse, negligence claims. If any of those patients can be positioned as having negligent care and outcomes because the paramedics were busy playing with their phones, the exposure for the employer is huge.” explains Devji. “Policies procedures, enforcement, compliance and risk management should be done right the first time to keep us out of harm’s way.”
2. Consider a liability insurance program.
"$7.5 million lawsuit filed against driver's doctor in seizure-related crash that killed Chesterfield man."
In the above scenario cited by Devji, JD, a physician released an elderly patient to drive again - a privilege that had been revoked due to the patient’s history of seizures and warnings against driving from other past treating physicians. After being released to drive by the doctor, the patient blacked out while driving 120 miles an hour completely through the now deceased victim’s home, while he was eating dinner.
As yourself - if you were the defendant doctor in question, would you be covered?
If not, it might be wise to consider going beyond just an umbrella, to all required specialty insurance policies.
“Unfortunately it isn't just about buying that one policy. The umbrella on it’s own is inadequate. An insurance program means of system of layers that we all need. Goes far beyond just an umbrella.” - Devji, JD
3. Know what legal tools you need.
"Lost Phone Costs Facility $650K — Extensive patient data aboard; incident ruled a HIPAA breach"
With cyber threats at an all-time high, the value of a solid data breach liability insurance policy cannot go understated. What would you do if one of your hospital’s employees happened to lose an unprotected mobile device with hundreds of patient’s names and personal identifying information (PII) in it, including social security numbers?
This was exactly the case resulting from the Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS) lost iphone, which was ruled a breach that led to the subsequent, and wise $650K provider settlement.
Effective asset protection begins with first understanding how to identify what you are most vulnerable to. According to Devji, legal tools are needed when there’s a gap in a multi layered asset protection program.
“It should be used as the last line of defense - if/when the first two layers fail..” says Ike Devji, JD
Aptly named, Enclothed Cognition is the official Medelita blog for medical professionals interested in topics relevant to a discerning and inquisitive audience. Medelita was founded by a licensed clinician who felt strongly about the connection between focus, poise and appearance.