Can I buy medical malpractice insurance?

The myths

  • You cannot buy this anywhere.
  • Never go abroad if you cannot sue.
  • Cost overrun and medical negligence covers are the same thing.

The reality

  • You cannot buy medical malpractice cover as it covers the hospital.
  • There is one patient malpractice cover available.
  • The ability to sue is a myth to keep lawyers rich.

The detail

It is mostly lawyers and American websites that perpetuate the myth that you should not go abroad for treatment, as you cannot sue hospitals as you could in the UK or USA. This may be reinforced by people with a vested interest in discouraging people from going overseas for treatment.

The sad fact is that suing any hospital is expensive. Few people succeed, and cases can take years. Medical malpractice lawyers are expensive, and hospitals will deploy a barrage of lawyers, doctors, consultants, expert witnesses and scientists to defend the case. According to figures released in 2007 - Medical malpractice in the USA kills an estimated 80,000 people, and injures thousands more, each year, but only two percent of malpractice victims seek compensation.

Medical malpractice is medical treatment by a healthcare professional that is below the standard of care expected in that community and results in harm to the patient. Medical malpractice can include negligent conduct that causes harm as well as the failure to take necessary action.

More specifically, there are three elements, which must be present in order to legally establish medical malpractice:

  • A professional relationship must have existed between you and the healthcare provider.
  • The healthcare provider must have acted below the standard of care of similar healthcare providers in the same community.
  • The substandard care must have caused harm to you.


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