There are many ways the practice – i.e. non-medical staff, practice systems and processes – can create or contribute to a poor patient outcome, leaving the practice exposed to legal action.
Avant Practice Medical Indemnity covers the practice for the legal defence costs and compensation amounts the practice may become liable to pay, associated with allegations and complaints. The policy also covers the practice for legal fees related to employment disputes and other matters, and there’s an option to include public liability cover.
Covers the practice up to $20 million for compensation amounts the practice may become liable to pay, and the associated legal defence costs for matters including;
- breaches of privacy
- failure to follow up.
Covers the practice up to $500,000 in responding to matters brought by a state health complaint entity or criminal or coronial investigations. Avant's medico-legal experts will assist you and your employees with everything from drafting a formal response and preparing for a hearing, to defending the practice or its non-medical practitioner employees.
Reasons a practice may face an investigation or inquiry include:
- coronial inquiry
- refusal to treat a patient
- allegation of discrimination
- communication issue.
We’ll cover the practice for up to $150,000 for legal fees associated with a dispute with an employee (including an employment contract). Our Medico-legal Advisory Service can also provide personalised advice to prevent a dispute from escalating.
Common reasons why practices contact Avant for advice or defence include:
- disputes with employees
- disputes between employees
- employees' use of social media
- employment contracts.
Employees will not be covered when acting in their capacity as a medical practitioner.
Covers the practice up to $150,000 for the legal fees associated with an inquiry including; alleged dishonest, fraudulent, or criminal conduct associated with healthcare service in relation to the Medicare Benefits Scheme.
The Avant Practice Medical Indemnity policy provides cover for the practice and employees for incidents arising from the management and administration of vaccines, provided the practice normally administers vaccinations as part of your healthcare services e.g. GP practice.
The cover is for situations that may result in a claim against the practice entity including:
- patient adverse reaction to a vaccine, provided the employee has the appropriate training and qualifications to administer it
- administering the vaccine away from the practice, such as a practice nurse attending a nursing home or a separate clinic
- complaints made to a tribunal or registration board against the practice in relation to healthcare services provided.
Avant Cyber Insurance has been designed to help protect your practice against many of the common losses caused by a cyber incident. This is an additional benefit for your practice when you hold an Avant Practice Medical Indemnity Policy. Cover is complimentary for all eligible practices with no additional premium payable.
Covers the practice for legal defence costs and compensation amounts if the practice is found responsible for the loss or damage of property, including injury, as a result of negligence.
Avant Cyber Insurance is an additional benefit for your practice when you hold an Avant Practice Medical Indemnity Policy. Cover is complimentary for all eligible practices with no additional premium payable.
Policies with a start date on or after 20 October 2023:
Policies with a start date between 20 October 2022 and 20 October 2023:
A medical practice can be named as a defendant in legal proceedings, usually in addition to, but sometimes instead of, the medical practitioner(s) who provided the care to the patient.
For example, the patient has been seen by a number of doctors, or a locum who isn’t permanently with the practice, and it is unclear which (if any) of them has been negligent. Another example may be where the patient’s injury was a result of the actions or advice of a practice employee.
Avant’s Practitioner Indemnity Insurance Policy is designed to protect the interests and needs of the doctor. It provides cover for claims made against the individual doctor and includes limited cover for the doctor’s own practice entity and employees, if the doctor meets the eligibility criteria.
Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Insurance Policy is designed to protect the practice (business entity) for claims associated with:
- civil liability
- complaints, inquiries and investigations
- vaccine management and administration
- employment disputes
- Medicare Benefit Scheme audit
- reputation of the practice
- public liability (optional).
There is limited cover under Avant’s Practitioner Indemnity Insurance Policy for a practice owned by the doctor, but only if the doctor meets the eligibility criteria.
A practice receives an audit notification from Medicare. The practice manager is unsure of how they should prepare, what information they will be required to provide to Medicare and have concerns regarding patient privacy.
The Medicare scheme is complex and rapidly changing, with reforms introduced in 2018 giving Medicare stronger debt recovery powers impacting both doctors and their employers. Practices are increasingly exposed to scrutiny and getting reliable up-to-date advice can be difficult.
In a case such as this, Avant would assist the practice to understand their obligations and work with them to prepare an appropriate response. As Australia’s largest medical defence organisation, Avant has extensive experience and the capability to assist practices to meet their obligations and to respond appropriately to audits conducted not just by Medicare, but also the Australian Taxation Office.
A doctor prescribes a patient an iron infusion, which is administered by the practice nurse.
The patient alleges the nurse administers the infusion incorrectly, causing nerve damage and subsequently sues the medical practice for the nurse’s actions.
Avant would engage lawyers to protect the medical practice in the legal proceedings and the nurse’s actions would be investigated. If the patient’s allegations are substantiated then the claim would proceed to alternative dispute resolution measures, such as mediation in an attempt to resolve the claim without going to a hearing.
A practice manager experiences a breakdown in the working relationship between a contracted doctor and other employees of the practice and is subsequently considering terminating the doctor.
In this case, Avant can provide key tips for managing workplace employment issues and disputes. We can also assist the practice to understand the distinction between reasonable and poor performance management, communication issues and bullying from a legal perspective.
Avant would encourage and support the practice manager to resolve the internal conflicts with the contracted doctor as informally as possible. If the issues are not resolved, Avant can provide advice on the appropriate steps to take before terminating the contracted doctor, including mediation.
Avant’s Medico-legal Advisory Service (MLAS) provides expert advice to help minimise the chance of a complaint or claim occurring. The service is staffed by claims managers, solicitors and doctors in our Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney offices. Our medico-legal experts are available during business hours, and after hours on weekends for emergency advice.
Example of how your practice could benefit from this service:
You have a young patient, whose parents are involved in a bitter divorce. One of the parents comes to the practice demanding a copy of their child’s medical records, but you don’t know which parent has custody of the child. You ring our advisory service while the parent waits in reception and get advice on how best to handle the situation.
^Cover is subject to the full terms, conditions, and exclusions of the policy.