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Tail coverage for a place I worked for a day?

Guest ERCat

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Guest ERCat

This happened back in 2015 so I have no idea why I am worried about this now but here it goes. 

When I was a new grad I accepted a job in the medical department at a psych facility. After ONE day of on the job training (and BEFORE this a few days of training for other things like crisis management without patient involvement) I knew that this job would NOT be suitable for me as a new grad as there was no internal medicine supervising physician for me to contact (only a psychiatrist). I did not feel comfortable with that level of independence so I told them that I would not be able to work for them.

 Looking back now, I think they had a claims made policy and I never looked into a tail. 

I assumed this was fine because I never had anything billed under my name to my knowledge. All I did for ONE DAY was “shadow” and I think I wrote a few notes based on the patient encounter of the physician assistant I was shadowing; I.e essentially acting as a scribe, for the physician assistant I shadowed. The memory is foggy because it was a few years ago but I remember the physician assistant I was shadowing with wanted me to put something under my name and I asked if we could keep it under his name for the shadowing shift. He complied with this to my knowledge. These were low risk encounters - I.e intake appointments where you simply ask questions about the patient’s psych background- and we only saw like two or three patients that day! After that one day I put in my notice. Sucks for them, But I just could not in good conscience take a job like that where I had no supervision.

I assumed this was fine because I never actually saw or touched patients by myself. Now almost three years later when I am reading about  tail coverage I’m freaking out because a) what if something happens and b) I never disclosed this to any other malpractice companies. Not because I was trying to hide something, but literally because I didn’t think it mattered as I never actually saw patients and treated patients in my name. Nothing was ever build under my name. However we are nearing the end of the 3 year statute of limitations - and how could I get sued for sitting in a room watching a few encounters and writing a few notes that were signed by the provider? That’s how I had always thought about this before but now my anxious mind is kicking up and I’m freaking out.

what do you guys think of this?

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I like CJAdmission's answer...

But, could you be named in a lawsuit - Yes!  Just like when cleaning staff, cafeteria staff, laundry staff, nurses, etc. are named in malpractice lawsuits.  Those individuals can't actually be sued individually because the hospital covers non-provider employees.  Would you lose said lawsuit, there have been weird things that have happened in courts, but overall the risk is basically zero - especially if the statute of limitations is almost over.

To summarize: what CJAdmission said

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So to a larger point.  You should structure all your assets in such a way as to protect them from a lawsuit.  This depends on what state you live in (bigly).  Even with malpractice ins a claim can and does go over people's limits, and you are on the hook for the remaining $500k...etc.  If you are protecting your assets all the time, a hiccup like this will be no big deal.

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19 minutes ago, ERCat said:

Thanks for the responses guys... Cideous, how does one protect their assets from something like that?

Every state is different...and when I say different, I'm talking like night and day!


For instance in Texas and Florida no matter what you get sued for (amount wise), if your house is homesteaded then it is protected to an unlimited amount.  In Nevada the protected limit is $550k I believe.  However, in other states like New Mexico, AZ and especially California, the homestead exemption protection for your house is laughable.  Something like $70k in Cal.  In other words, if you see someone that dies and it's somehow determined to be your fault and you get hit with more then a million in judgements AND you have the standard 1mil/3mil policy?  Say bye bye to your house.  They can and will force the sale and your creditor will take all the profits to meet your judgement debt after your small homestead excluded amount.

Some states like CA will even let them go after your IRA's.  401k's are still off the table because they are federally protected

Where it gets interesting is in a state like Utah.  Their standard protections are for sheet, but in 2013 they passed a Utah Asset Protection Trust law.  It is an irrevocable trust that you can dump everything in and it be protected and is unlimited.  However, you can not decide how the money is withdrawn.  A co-owner (so to speak) of the trust must decide dispersement.  It can't be you.  Sooo you better not piss off your wife or husband.  Clunky, but effective.  And you have to pay a lawyer to set it up.

So, my advice is to check your states asset protection laws and build a strategy from there.  If I ever lived in California I would put everything in my wives name, including the house, and stay away from IRA's.  After maxing out a 401k, I would dump into annuities which are protected.  Lastly, I would carry a supplemental AAPA policy like though the CM&F group.

If you really want to check one thing today...google "(insert your state) homestead exemption from lawsuits".  That will let you know if your house is on the chopping block.

Hope that helps some.

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One consideration would be the statute of limitations.  In Ohio, where I primarily work, it's 1 year from date of service, or 1 year from when the plaintiff discovered harm.  The exception is for peds, where the 1 year clock starts @ age 18.  The 1 year from when harm is discovered seems to be interpreted fairly tightly - not 30 years later the outcome is poorer than desired.

So, if you wrote a few notes and it's more than 1 year ago, I wouldn't worry about it.


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I promised a legal reply from a legal professional so listen up as this applies to everyone.


Hey Bob,

Not much to do for a situation like this other than hope nothing ever comes up. You normally need to purchase tail within 30-60 days of leaving coverage, which means purchasing a Tail may be impossible. Or, if the PA can show they were covered since that short job, they may be able to get Claims-Made coverage with a retroactive date back to that first day of shadowing (not a Tail yet though). 
The big thing is: You are liable for your actions. And the statute of limits are triggered for a lot of medical issues upon discovery by the patient, not necessarily the date of care. So, 3 years could be 5 years. Or a pediatric patient hits age of maturity 15 years later, discovers the medical issue due to the provider’s care, and then has 3 years of the statute of limitations from that date. In each situation, that’s why Occurrence is a great benefit, or at least being cognizant or getting a Tail to report these claims years later.
So, my advice is to never even think that you are safe at home base because the sky can fall at any time and the personal liability insurance policy is your umbrella if the sky falls. I have mine with CM&F who has been around exactly as long as I have lived. Don't hesitate, do it early before it rains on your parade and your future ability to practice. Bob Blumm  
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