Ask the care expert: Do I need malpractice insurance as a LTC nurse?

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Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Q: I am new to long-term care. Do I need malpractice insurance? I've seen a lot of intimidating ads on TV so I'm wondering about it. What do you think I should do?

A: Well, do you need insurance to drive a car? Do you have homeowners insurance for your house or apartment? I don't think the question should matter at all with your place of employment.

Nurses should have individual malpractice insurance. Some nurses feel they are covered by their facility's insurance or even that they will be sued more if they have their own insurance.

Remember that if you work agency, you are not covered by the facility's insurance. And if you think you don't need insurance because you are a good nurse, you're wrong. We've seen this time and time again. Remember that malpractice cases are very expensive, and they get that way very quickly.

When you seek insurance, shop around and determine whether license defense or regulatory defense is covered under the policy. Don't just pick the policy that sends you the most advertisements or choose the one all of your friends have.

The best insurance policies allow the nurse to choose her own attorney and does not limit the hourly rate paid to the attorney.

Keep in mind that without insurance, even if you are found NOT to be negligent, you are still responsible for the attorney fees and the expenses incurred during any trial. With that in mind, that $100 per year policy doesn't look too bad after all.

Keep in mind, it's not because you are working in long-term care that you should have insurance; it is because you hold a nursing license that you should have insurance. You protect your driver's license, so protect your nursing license, too. This is your livelihood.

Please send your resident care-related to questions to Sherrie Dornberger at


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