Going bare in vet practice: Tales of veterinary malpractice insurance gone awry
No, I’ve never been considered the most organized human being, a fact which drives most of those close to me a little crazy. Though I’ve improved on this tremendously in recent years, my occasional lapses can be somewhat problematic.
Take today’s mammoth power outage in South Florida. While everyone else in Miami figured something big was amiss, I was home for lunch kicking myself for forgetting to pay my power bill again. Yeah, I’m that bad.
Sometimes it’s even more potentially devastating than the loss of my DSL (God, forbid I lose power long enough to drag me away from my blog for a night!). My most recent serious debacle explains the title:
I forgot to renew my AVMA membership and consequently my professional liability insurance was canceled. In other words, I’ve been working without “malpractice” coverage for some time now.
In case you think this not so big a deal, you might want to reconsider: Big time malpractice suits and license actions are increasingly common in veterinary medicine. Even an irrationally angry party, feeling aggrieved at the loss of a pet for what he perceives to be a major lapse in my professional duties can end up costing me plenty in legal fees.
Though large settlements and/or judgments are still uncommon in my profession, legal fees can be sizable—not to mention white-knuckle scary to someone’s whose current paycheck-to-paycheck life means potential bankruptcy. Sure they can’t take my house. But I’d probably lose it anyway. Ouch!
Often, it matters little whether malpractice suits are justifiable or not. Evidence or no evidence. Obvious injury or no apparent damage. It doesn’t matter. The lawyers are still required when we have to defend our licenses and our reputations.
I know I’m not alone in my forgetfulness and disorganization. And I am improving. What is it they say…? Progress is the goal…not perfection. I’d do well to remember that the next time my power goes out and the self-flagellation kicks into overdrive.