Multidisciplinary Clinics are on the Rise in Canada
Canadian patients are increasingly becoming consumers of elective healthcare services as opposed to the historical physician directed healthcare services. As such, patients are more educated about the benefits of using collaborative regulated health professionals or treatment modalities to treat an array of illnesses and injuries. In response, health professionals continue to create multidisciplinary clinics so their patients can access comprehensive health services under one roof. Teams of health professionals can include a wide range of services, from pharmacists to dieticians, physiotherapists to psychotherapists, and naturopaths to massage or physiotherapists.
Multidisciplinary clinics offer the convenience of having different healthcare professionals all in one clinic, working together on the patient’s diagnosis, and treatment plan making the process simpler for both the patients and the health providers.
Despite their many advantages, multidisciplinary clinics come with unique risks. Recent media attention to medical malpractice tells the stories of entities and their practitioners sued for mis-diagnoses and serious medical errors. Some healthcare entities have been ordered to pay millions in damages. Comprehensive protection for these entities is important as a defense to the increasing litigation environment of the healthcare industry.
What’s at Risk for Multidisciplinary Clinics
The owner of the clinic is responsible for the clinic as a whole, including the vicarious liability of its employees. Non-employed health professionals are responsible for their own liability unless they have a contractual agreement that the clinic is assuming that responsibility for their services on behalf of the clinic. Given that a patient will see various professionals in a multi-disciplinary clinic and that there can be various employment arrangements, the liability related to a patient injury can become rather complicated and contentious.
In this complex multidisciplinary environment, a lot can go wrong:
- If there is a lack of communication between clinical specialists, then patients could develop serious health problems under the radar.
- If there is an overlapping on the scopes of practice, then there may be potential on omission attributable to either health professional.
- If use of medical or diagnostic equipment results in health complications for the patient, then the owner of the clinic and the equipment technician could be held liable.
- If there is a physical property break-in or even a cyber security breach.
- If medical staff are overworked and/or underqualified, then patient safety is at greater risk.
- If the clinical team experiences burnout or low morale, then patients and their caregivers are at risk of abuse.
- In a multidisciplinary clinic, the patient’s primary person of contact is the medical office assistant. While medical office assistants are trained to deal with confidential files, they may not be able to identify red flags on healthcare issues.
- Only the patient can authorize inter-professional discussion of his/her medical records. If these specialists don’t receive authorization to discuss their patient, then the patient could develop serious health problems.
Medicine is extremely nuanced and no highly competent specialist is omniscient. Despite a decrease in the number of legal cases against Canadian doctors in recent years, the CMPA reported rising damages payouts totaling 248 million dollars in 2012. Any medical professional can be held responsible when one of their patients experiences adverse outcomes in our medical system.
Professional Liability Insurance is required of most health professionals. Clinic owners are responsible to have insurance in place for the clinic itself, and provide professional coverage for their employees, while independent healthcare contractors must secure their own professional liability insurance. To account for the industry’s nuanced and constantly-changing insurance regulations, health professionals need savvy brokers on their side supported by knowledgeable insurers.
What MedThree Can Offer
MedThree understands the complexity of multi-disciplinary healthcare facilities, including the coverage nuances involved when an entity uses independent contractors. We can provide solutions for risks ranging from acute care facilities to community care using both claims-made and occurrence-based professional liability coverage based on risk and exposure.
Insurance professionals can grow their healthcare book of business by using MedThree Insurance Group’s products, because we provide complete and integrated coverage for the healthcare industry.
Our complete coverage for multidisciplinary medical clinics includes:
- Professional and General liability
- Equipment breakdown
- Legal expense
- Directors’ and Officers’ liability
The MedThree Advantage
MedThree Insurance Group are specialists in writing healthcare risks and keep abreast of the nuances and forever changing regulations and guidelines within the healthcare industry. General underwriters, by contrast, may simplify the process by referring to a generic list and rate the coverage based on a lack of understanding of landscape of healthcare risks, leaving the healthcare facilities unprotected or with insufficient insurance coverage.