I meet regularly with Jason Leander, our vice president of sales and marketing, in order to discuss and outline content updates for our website. Next week Jason is writing a short piece outlining a few ways in which doctors might supplement their income outside of their personal practice. Many of these jobs are fairly straightforward as they relate to medical malpractice insurance and exposure, but accepting a position as a Medical Director requires further consideration.

Medical Director is a very broad title given to doctors who tend to the administrative duties of a health care facility. For instance, in the field of emergency medicine, a medical director at an emergent care clinic would typically be a physician who provides leadership, oversight, and quality assurance to his team of emergency medical technicians and support staff. He might be involved in hiring practices, establishing protocols, and other administrative functions, but it would be unlikely that he would provide hands-on medical services himself. However, this varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the facility’s expectations of their medical director, as well as his own personal methodology, which is why it is important for any physician considering taking a medical directorship to know what his exposure and liability is as it relates to his new position.

A medical director should, at the very least, never assume that the current policy in place for their private medical practice would cover their medical directorship.

According to an article from Medical Economics, “No distinctions are made between allegations of professional negligence in the performance of director duties. Thus establishing policies, procedures, and protocols in a hospital can create the same potential liability as your routine treatment of patients.” So, even though you might not be the one rendering services to a patient, you still have exposure as an administrator. With that in mind, we suggest that you consult with your insurance provider and/or attorney and do a thorough review of your coverage so that you are prepared in the event of a claim.

Typically, medical malpractice insurance covers professional services rendered to patients. Special coverage is needed for medical directors. A medical director should, at the very least, never assume that the current policy in place for their private medical practice would cover their medical directorship.

You have a few options in order to make sure you are covered:
Most importantly, keep your insurance carrier and/or your attorney in the loop when considering a medical directorship. That way, they can work with you to make sure that you find a solution that limits your exposure and makes sense for all parties involved.

  1. The first, and probably the easiest, is to obtain coverage through the organization who is taking you on as its medical director. Make sure to review the policy with your attorney and/or personal medical malpractice carrier to make sure that it addresses the responsibilities outlined in your agreement with the health-care facility.
  2. Speak with your personal malpractice carrier to see if they will augment your policy with additional coverage to include your directorship duties. Most malpractice insurers won’t do this. Nonetheless, it would be wise to speak to your carrier, as they will have recommendations for the best way to obtain insurance for your medical directorship.
  3. Finally, you can attempt to find a separate policy that can cover your for directorship duties. One of the bonuses of obtaining a separate policy is that you create a division between the exposure you carry from your directorship duties and your personal exposure in your private practice. And generally speaking, the premiums on these separate policies are less expensive than your private medical malpractice insurance.