It used to be said that the only certainties in life were ‘death’ and ‘taxes’. But in our modern lives it would be fair to add ‘change’ to that short list of certainties. The pace of change in healthcare continues to accelerate with new technologies and approaches impacting everything from patient service and medical research to training and new treatments/therapies.
As an insurer of healthcare professionals a key part of our role is to keep pace with those changes, particularly where they impact the risks associated with practice. Doing so enables us to adjust not only the insurance protection you purchase from MIGA, but also the services we provide to support you.
In the day-to-day performance of our roles, change can sometimes be difficult to recognise, but reflection and analysis over a longer period can reveal significant trends. Reflecting on the last few years, we have identified a number of trends impacting our members and clients and key areas where we are providing assistance.
Whilst the number of claims we are handling is reasonably steady, we are seeing more and more large claims. Interestingly, it is often assumed that all large files are obstetric claims, but we are now seeing more large matters across more areas of practice, such as general practice, radiology, orthopaedics, paediatrics and cardiology.
We are also seeing the rise of ‘nervous shock’ claims. These are claims made by persons close to an injured patient, where those people have suffered a mental injury as a consequence of the harm to the patient. Examples include:
- A new mother who loses her baby as a result of an issue with the treatment, or
- A ‘failure to diagnose’ claim which leaves the surviving spouse as the unexpected sole parent to young children.
Our Claims and Legal Services Team is kept very busy providing advice to our clients. Over recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of calls for help and advice from members and clients. Our 24-hour emergency legal advice service is highly used and staffed by our own team members so you speak direct to us when you call. We understand that it is so important to you to get help from us for emergencies.
The calls into the Claims Department are not just about issues to do with patient care, but can include advice on complaints to health care complaint entities and regulators, and workplace matters, such as bullying and harassment, training/supervisor relationship issues, contractual disputes etc.
Disciplinary actions can be very stressful and traumatic. They strike at the heart of an individual’s self-confidence and self-perception. We work with our members and clients to support them and progress the investigation as quickly as possible.
Practice Risk Assessments
Our Risk Team also respond to many requests for advice. One of the services we offer medical practices and healthcare insurance clients is the completion of a Practice Risk Assessment, providing advice, resources and training where appropriate. From the completed assessments we have been able to identify some recurring issues where practices are unsure of their obligations, or require assistance putting procedures in place to meet them.
Some of the key areas where we have been providing assistance include:
- Consent policies
- Understanding and documenting complaints
- Non-clinical complaints, how and where to document them (not in the patient record)
- Follow-up processes – particularly where doctors may not see it as their responsibility, or where the Practice Manager does not have the power or authority to institute them in the practice.
MIGA is here to support you
Whether it is the changing nature of your practice or changing situations or circumstances within your practice, help is at hand. We are always working to support and protect you and we encourage you to contact us early for assistance. Access to knowledgeable and supportive MIGA staff is an important benefit of your insurance with MIGA. This approach sets us apart from commercial insurers and we hope it gives you the peace of mind to continue the amazing work you do in our community.