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Medical Liability Insurance Premium Crisis may loom for Physicians at Catholic Healthcare West Hospitals on the West Coast

CAL/AAEM has learned that Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) has revealed a strategy to potentially require its Medical Staff members to buy $2Million/$6Million Medical Liability Insurance (MLI) policy limits. This represents a doubling of the $1Million/$3Million limits held by all Emergency Medicine groups across the state and the vast majority of other physician specialties. California MLI companies oppose this increase and estimate premium increases of 40%. CHW has also introduced a new indemnification clause that shifts risk toward physicians in instances of possible joint liability between physicians and the hospitals.

CHW, with 41 hospitals, is the largest hospital system on the West Coast and the 8th largest hospital organization in the U.S. CHW has been actively engaged in lean processing and other cost-cutting measures for several years. CHW exclusive service contracts (ESCs) include the traditional hospital based specialties (EM, radiology, anesthesiology and pathology), hospitalist medicine and trauma services. This matter will also likely affect physicians engaged in other service contracts such as service agreements for directorships like cardiology (STEMI programs), neurology (Stroke Center programs) and other programs requiring medical directorship outside the realm of the hospital's CMO.

If CHW applied the $2M/$6M limit across all 8,000 Physicians with Medical Staff Membership at its 41 hospitals, the cost to Physicians could be devastating. Other hospitals may follow the lead of CHW if these raised limits are instituted. CAL/AAEM will continue to update its Members on this disturbing, and potentially costly issue.