There are more than 1.03 million licensed EMS personnel across the United States. While these first responders provide essential, life-saving medical care; they also face a lot of liability. When something goes wrong, the EMS Medical Director usually shares in the blame. The suits will argue that ineffective systems or poor hiring choices are to blame. Since these activities fall under the EMS medical director job description, this position is a frequent fall guy which makes additional insurance necessary.
The average cost of EMS Medical Director liability insurance is between $2,500 per year on the low end and $4,000 per year on the high end. Factors like the location and size of the agency will directly affect pricing. However, this policy is only one type of insurance the medical director will need to carry. The average amount spent on professional insurance premiums for all policies is around $583 per month.
A medical director is essential for operational oversight in healthcare. An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Medical Director coordinates all of the activities necessary for providing quality patient care in emergency medicine. It is a high-pressure, high-responsibility position with many inherent liabilities. Due to the nature of the position, it often requires additional insurance coverage beyond a standard medical liability policy.
An EMS Medical Director policy will protect you in the event that your administrative duties result in legal or compliance issues. Let’s talk about how this type of policy differs from other policies that doctors may carry and what the typical costs are.
- How Much Does EMS Medical Director Insurance Cost
- What Does an EMS Medical Director Do?
- How Does EMS Differ From Traditional Medical Practice Care?
- EMS Medical Director Liability
- What Does EMS Medical Director Insurance Cover?
- Different Types of Emergency Medical Services
- The Bottom Line
How Much Does EMS Medical Director Insurance Cost
The legal system likes to exploit healthcare. Due to the high-profile legal visibility of healthcare facilities, the costs of EMS Medical Director insurance continue to rise. The average policy providing $1 Million in coverage costs between $2,500 and $4,000 annually.
Factors that Affect Pricing
Insurance costs can be influenced by many things. Location, the volume of patients, and estimated revenue have the most direct impact on insurance prices. As a generalization, more patients mean more risk and higher premiums.
Despite the sticker shock of almost $4,000 per year in premiums, the benefit of this insurance is unquestionable with even a single lawsuit.
Supplemental Insurance Policies and Costs
EMS agencies have exposure to a wide variety of risks. A single medical director policy likely will not provide enough coverage for every situation. Therefore, medical directors are also encouraged to carry supplemental insurance policies like:
- Workplace Liability Insurance ($170 – $250 per month; $2,040 – $3,000 per year)
- Cybersecurity Liability Insurance (average $124 per month; $1485 per year)
- Medical Malpractice Insurance (average $2,080 per month; $24,960 per year)
What Does an EMS Medical Director Do?
An EMS Medical Director is typically a licensed physician that is hired as a contractor to work in an oversight capacity for an EMS agency. These director positions typically do not interact directly with patients. Instead, they play an administrative role in coordinating EMS services. One of the primary responsibilities of the EMS Medical Director is staffing. In healthcare, it is common to use staffing companies to recruit and fill positions.
Typically EMS Medical Director’s tasks include
- Enforcing Compliance Activities
- Creating Policies and Procedures
- Staffing Employees
- Onboarding and Training New Employees
- Oversight of Risk Management Activities
How Does EMS Differ From Traditional Medical Practice Care?
The medical director position is not new or unique to emergency medicine. However, the particular risks faced by an EMS agency do differ based on the point of care. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel provide acute out-of-hospital care and transportation to a primary medical facility. Due to the nature of their job, all of the patients seen by EMS are suffering a medical emergency as a result of illness or injury.
Emergency medical services include a wide range of roles, all of which fall under the director’s purview. This includes:
- Agencies and organizations (both public and private)
- Communications Networks (911 Operators)
- Transportation (Ambulance Drivers)
- Trauma Centers (hospitals and acute care facilities with special designations)
- Highly trained pre-hospital care staff, including physicians, nurses, EMTs, therapists, administrators, and government officials.
- Extensive public outreach
EMS is not an isolated point of care. It is a bridge between the community and traditional healthcare that facilitates immediate care for urgent cases. But the high proportion of emergent cases and variable conditions open the door for significant liability. Medical directors in a hospital setting can control certain factors like a sterile environment and limited exposure to the community. EMS medical services do not have that benefit. Therefore it is important that EMS medical directors carry specialized insurance (not malpractice) or a medical director policy tailored to the risks of EMS medicine.
EMS Medical Director Liability
A medical director is accountable to state and federal agencies governing EMS services. Every facet of the EMS Agency, including operations, patient outcomes, staff training, regulatory documentation, and the quality of care all fall under the director’s umbrella. Every decision that a medical director makes can impact patients so the risk of underperformance can have serious consequences.
When there is an accusation of negligent care or abuse of Medicare or Medicaid programs, the medical director often takes the fall. Government agencies may try to hold the director accountable through administrative, civil, or criminal damages. This gets even more complicated as the nature of healthcare adds additional liabilities of professional and medical malpractice.
What Does EMS Medical Director Insurance Cover?
Exact coverage varies by policy and provider. However, policies typically provide personal protection for professional activities. This type of insurance is a tailored version of errors and omissions insurance that provides professional coverage for directors. It may cover court costs, settlements and damages, and legal fees.
An EMS medical director is responsible for staffing and the EMS agency. That means that the director is responsible for the performance of the staff. If the competency of a staff member comes into question, the EMS medical director could face some liability. For example, in a nursing facility, the medical director was sued following 11 deaths resulting from a viral outbreak. Inspectors claimed that system failures caused the virus to spread and that the medical director was responsible for those systems.
As an EMS medical director, the right policy can save you hundreds of thousands in legal costs. However, in most cases, these policies only cover administrative work that falls under the job description of a medical director. Since this person is typically also a physician, additional insurance may be needed to practice medicine.
Different Types of Emergency Medical Services
While the first type of EMS to come to mind is an ambulance crew, the field of emergency medicine casts a wider net. Special transportation services that exist to move critically ill patients between facilities are one type of EMS.
Different types of emergency response like the fire department or police are part of EMS. And in different locales (urban areas versus rural areas), EMS organizations may operate differently.
The local government may control emergency medical services in some areas. In many countries, government EMS exists in more urban areas. However, countries with social healthcare may provide all EMS services through government-funded programs.
Fire or Police-Linked EMS
In many countries around the world, including parts of the United States, France, Germany, and Japan; EMS personnel are pulling double duty with the fire department or police precinct. These systems aim to provide efficiency by staffing well-trained professionals that can render medical aid when they aren‘t fighting fires.
Some EMS services are funded through non-profit organizations or are run on an entire volunteer basis. Small towns in rural America tend to have volunteer fire departments. While large non-profits like the American Red Cross are always on standby to supplement local care across the country in times of need.
Private Ambulance Service
Another type of EMS includes professionals employed through a private company who is contracted to provide EMS services by a government agency or facility. Private ambulance services are becoming increasingly more common throughout the US.
In some areas, the local hospital provides its own ambulatory services. This can be an effective way to direct patients to their facility and in areas with a high amount of privatized EMS agencies, it may actually lower patient costs.
With Emergency Medical personnel operating in a wide range of settings, medical directors need to be prepared for all potential liabilities. It is important to understand the scope of the job and the extent of the liabilities before accepting a directorship position.
The Bottom Line
Carrying an additional medical director insurance policy isn’t optional when you face liabilities from every facet of your job. Directors are often responsible for the performance of other staff members in addition to their own. This significantly increases the risks that they face on the job. Although the costs of EMS medical director insurance are substantial, these policies can be a lifesaver in the event of a lawsuit.