These New York Hospitals Might Not Be Able To Repay Patients If They Screw Up

Hospital patientsNot one of the self-insured hospitals.

Photo: isafmedia/Flickr

Some New York City hospitals have almost no reserves to pay for malpractice lawsuits and aren’t even insured against doctors’ mistakes, the New York Times reported Monday.Three Brooklyn hospitals — Interfaith Medical centre, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical centre and Wyckoff Heights Medical centre — are completely self-insured in the event of a malpractice lawsuit, the Times reported, citing a 2009 health department survey.

This means the hospital itself reserves money for potential lawsuits instead of paying for insurance.

What’s worse, Interfaith and Wyckoff have no money saved in case of a lawsuit, the Times reported, citing financial records and hospital officials. The Times could not determine whether Kingsbrook still had money set aside for liability.

University of Pennsylvania law professor Tom Baker told the Times that cutting malpractice lawsuit insurance may make short-term sense for a struggling hospital, but it’s ultimately a huge disservice to patients who risk losing an award if they are the victim of malpractice.

“From a social perspective, it’s very irresponsible,” Baker said. “They’re taking in these people knowing they’re not able to make good on the harm they caused. Even a really good hospital is going to have a certain amount of medical malpractice. It’s inevitable.”

Representatives for the three hospitals could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

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