When most people think of malpractice lawsuits, they think of a high-profile case they might have heard about on the news where a doctor made a major mistake like amputating the wrong leg. But malpractice suits can happen to other health professionals, such as pharmacists. A mislabeled bottle could lead a patient to overdose themselves and end up in the hospital, for instance. Then that patient may file a claim against the pharmacist. So it’s important to understand what pharmacy malpractice insurance is, when it makes sense to get it and where you can find it.
What is Pharmacy Malpractice Insurance?
Pharmacy malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance. The pharmacists’ professional organization ASHP defines pharmacy malpractice insurance as, “Professional liability insurance is coverage for a pharmacist that provides protection in the event a claim is made against a pharmacist involving an actual or alleged error or omission while carrying out his or her duties that are within the ‘scope of practice’ for a pharmacist.”
To put it a bit more plainly, pharmacists can be held liable when they make mistakes that cause harm. The independent insurance agency Trusted Choice lists three of the top mistakes that can result in a claim against a pharmacist:
- Wrong drug: Clerical errors or oversights could simply result in someone getting the wrong medication.
- Wrong strength: If the wrong dosages are listed, the patient could overdose or not get enough medicine to treat their illness.
- Wrong directions: Improperly stated directions can lead to a patient taking a drug wrong, which could harm them. And according to the definition above, all it takes is a patient mishearing someone to initiate a claim event.
According to the Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) pharmacy malpractice insurance can often cover up to $1 million for each claim and $3 million for an annual aggregate. HPSO lists that the average cost for the defense of a pharmacist claim is $14,503, so these claims can get quite costly.
Many of these types of plans can also cover other expenses related to a legal claim against a pharmacist, such as license protection if you have to defend your license to the state, defendant expenses, assault coverage, medical payments, sexual misconduct, first aid expenses and damage to property of others, as a few examples.
When looking up pharmacy malpractice insurance, you might also see products that cover entire pharmacies. If you own or are thinking of starting a pharmacy, you will need other types of insurance, too. In addition to professional liability, CoverWallet lists general liability, a business owners policy (BOP), worker’s compensation, business interruption coverage, and cyber liability as common products for pharmacies.
When Do Pharmacists Need Malpractice Insurance?
Many pharmacists work for larger retailers and in other traditional employment situations where coverage can be included by the employer. So you may be wondering if this product is even necessary for your situation.
Many employer malpractice plans may only offer limited coverage or not cover you in certain situations. It’s important to check what is all covered with your employer and whether you feel that is enough coverage. You may want to get your own malpractice policy just to be sure you have enough coverage.
Other situations where pharmacists need their own malpractice insurance coverage include when a pharmacist is self-employed or owns their own pharmacy.
How Much Does Pharmacy Malpractice Insurance Cost?
To see how much pharmacy malpractice insurance costs, we got a quote from insurer CM&F for professional liability coverage for allied health professionals. We entered a self-employed pharmacist in Wisconsin. We got a quote of $390 a month.
If you are looking for small business insurance for your own pharmacy, CoverWallet lists out some of the prices you can expect:
- General liability from $39 per month
- Bundled general liability and professional liability from $139 per month
- Business owners policy and worker’s compensation from $139 per month
Business owners policies tend to lump commercial property and general liability coverage together.
Where Can You Find Pharmacy Malpractice Insurance?
You have a few options for sourcing this type of insurance:
- Going through online brokerage firms, independent agents like Trusted Choice or online commercial brokers like CoverWallet and Insureon.
- Finding professional liability insurance through small business insurers like Hiscox or the Hartford.
- Finding specialty products through companies that focus on insuring healthcare professionals like HPSO or Proliability.
- Going through a company that focuses mainly on pharmacists, like Pharmacists Mutual
It all depends on how much assistance you want or how specialized you want the product to be.
Pharmacy malpractice insurance covers you in case an actual or perceived error on your part causes harm to a third party. While you may do your best, all it takes is a clerical error or grabbing the wrong container for misdosing a patient. Even if you have employer insurance, some types of coverage may not be enough. You can find this type of insurance directly through a wide variety of business insurers.