As far back as four thousand years ago, doctors were held liable by the society for deaths or injuries that were deemed to be as a direct result of medical care that had been administered by them. Historians say that doctors would be subjected to punitive measures such as amputation if their actions were considered negligent. Doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners save lives thus their contribution is highly valuable. While medical practitioners take an oath and often go to great lengths to provide the highest quality of care, deaths or unforeseen injuries can occur as a result of an interplay of known and unknown factors.
The Health Laws Amendments Act of May 2019 requires every medical practitioner in Kenya to take a professional indemnity cover annually. The Act also requires every health institution to insure the health institution against professional liability associated with its employees.
Professional liability cases against doctors are complex matters. Data on the state of the medical malpractice suits in Kenya shows that between May 2018 and February 2019, a number of leading hospitals paid more than Ksh. 100 million to plaintiffs. The Kenya Medical and Dentists Board has often admitted that medical negligence is much more than the failure of the doctor. For instance, if a breach of cybersecurity results in the revelation of a patient’s health to the wrong party, the doctor who is involved can be sued for breach of confidentiality. A patient can attribute the adverse effects of a drug to the failure of the doctor who prescribed the drug without considering the complicated reactions between the body and drugs. In spite of the hundreds of scenarios that can expose a doctor to professional liability, doctors have been slow to take up professional indemnity covers in Kenya due to lack of knowledge.
What is professional indemnity insurance?
This is an insurance policy that covers professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers from any financial losses that may arise due to negligence, errors or fallacies affecting their clients which may occur in the course of execution of their duties. It is also referred to as professional liability insurance.
Professional indemnity insurance covers the following:
- The costs associated with one’s defence during a legal suit
- The compensation claims following the settlement of a legal matter
- Loss of documents
- Expenses that are incurred in the course of the legal suits
For doctors, all types of specialists ought to take up professional indemnity insurance. This includes the following medical specialists: Dermatologists, oncologists, dentists, ophthalmologists, internists, paediatricians among others. Professional indemnity cover does not cover liability that arises as a result of criminal activities, acts committed under the influence of drugs or intoxication among other exclusions that may be specific to an insurer.
Do I need professional indemnity insurance if I am not a doctor?
Even if you are not required to get professional indemnity insurance by the law, it is important to get it if your work covers any of the following aspects:
- Your job or your enterprise provides professional advice to clients e.g; HR managers, lawyers or advocates, management consultants, fitness consultants, IT consultants, accountants
- You provide designs to clients e.g. graphic designer, architect, oil and gas engineer, project engineer, web designer, programmer, developers, interior designers
- You are required to take up professional indemnity insurance in order to fulfil the requirements of servicing a client’s contract e.g. building contractors
- The association that regulates the profession you are in required you to take up professional indemnity insurance
Benefits of professional indemnity insurance
- In the event that a client files a claim against a doctor or the institution he works for, the insurance company can provide a team of legal experts to handle the case
- In the event that the compensation is awarded to a client, an indemnity cover will meet the costs
- Professional indemnity protects the insured party from accruing additional expenses as they seek to settle any claim related to professional liability
Do you need help with choosing the right professional indemnity insurance for you or your institution? Talk to us today
By Corazon Achieng’