Professional liability insurance in Obstetrics and Gynaecology: estimate of the level of knowledge about malpractice insurance policies and definition of an informative tool for the management of the professional activity
Departmental Section of Legal Medicine, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:544 doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-544Published: 17 December 2011
In recent years, due to the increasingly hostile environment in the medical malpractice field and related lawsuits in Italy, physicians began informing themselves regarding their comprehensive medical malpractice coverage.
In order to estimate the level of knowledge of medical professionals on liability insurance coverage for healthcare malpractice, a sample of 60 hospital health professionals of the obstetrics and gynaecology area of Messina (Sicily, Italy) were recluted. A survey was administered to evaluate their knowledge as to the meaning of professional liability insurance coverage but above all on the most frequent policy forms ("loss occurrence", "claims made" and "I-II risk"). Professionals were classified according to age and professional title and descriptive statistics were calculated for all the professional groups and answers.
Most of the surveyed professionals were unaware or had very bad knowledge of the professional liability insurance coverage negotiated by the general manager, so most of the personnel believed it useful to subscribe individual "private" policies. Several subjects declared they were aware of the possibility of obtaining an extended coverage for gross negligence and substantially all the surveyed had never seen the loss occurrence and claims made form of the policy. Moreover, the sample was practically unaware of the related issues about insurance coverage for damages related to breaches on informed consent. The results revealed the relative lack of knowledge--among the operators in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology--of the effective coverage provided by the policies signed by the hospital managers for damages in medical malpractice. The authors thus proposed a useful information tool to help professionals working in obstetrics and gynaecology regarding aspects of insurance coverage provided on the basis of Italian civil law.
Italy must introduce a compulsory insurance system which could absorb, through a mechanism of "distribution of risk", the malpractice litigation and its costs. This will provide compensation in accidental cases where it wouldn't be possible to demonstrate carelessness, imprudence and/or lack of skill.