AACN News—May 2001—Certification

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Vol. 18, No. 5, MAY 2001


Dispelling Myths Surrounding Professional Liability Insurance

You probably have heard all sorts of opinions about professional liability insurance. Some people say you can’t live without it; others say the risks are greater if you have it. In fact, some nurses believe that being certified increases their exposure to lawsuits.

According to Seabury & Smith, the administrator of the AACN-sponsored professional liability insurance plan, any nurse is vulnerable to a lawsuit. However, additional education or training is considered a positive. The more training you have, the better off you are. Education reduces your exposure to risk and better prepares you to make informed decisions that encompass a larger scope.

In fact, Seabury & Smith offers CCRN- and CCNS-certified nurses a 10% risk management credit off the liability insurance premiums, because it recognizes the value of certification in raising the levels of competency for the nursing profession.

Following are responses by Seabury & Smith to some other common misconceptions about your need for this type of coverage:

Myth: I don’t need additional insurance, because my employer-provided coverage is adequate.
Fact: Your employer-provided coverage may be limited.

You cannot rely solely on the liability protection provided by your employer. In fact, purchasing your own professional liability coverage is recommended, even if you have limited coverage through your employer. Without your own personal liability protection, you might have to pay all attorney fees, court costs and loss of wages out of your own pocket because:
• Your employer’s policy may have gaps.
• A lawsuit may be filed after you have terminated employment.
• Employer-provided coverage may not cover you for actions that take place outside the workplace, or for actions performed outside of your job description or when established procedure was not followed.
• You may have to share your employer-provided coverage with your coworkers, your employer and the entity involved.
• A consolidated defense for an employer usually represents the interest of the employer instead of you.

Myth: I don’t need professional liability protection, because lawsuits are filed only against those who are already insured.
Fact: A charge of negligence could not only render you penniless, but also damage your career. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone.

Do you supervise others? Follow doctors’ orders? Administer medicine? Monitor patients’ reactions to treatment? Render counseling or advice? Provide professional services? If so, you are at risk of being sued for malpractice.

As a professional provider, you have devoted years to study and training. Your skills and experience are constantly being tested by emergency decisions, stressful conditions and difficult patients or clients. How you respond can determine your professional reputation and your future.

A malpractice suit or a charge of negligence—justified or not—could mean the end of your career. That’s why it’s best for you to have your own professional liability insurance.

Myth: Purchasing coverage now won’t help if I’m sued years later.
Fact: The AACN plan is the “occurrence form” type, which means you will be covered for lawsuits filed at any time for an incident that occurred during the period your policy was in effect.

The “occurrence form” coverage is beneficial when a suit is brought against you for an incident that took place years ago. You are covered during the term of the insurance certificate, regardless of when the suit or claim is made. You have this protection now and in the future for any claims resulting from covered services you performed while the insurance certificate was in force.

Myth: All professional liability plans are the same.
Fact: Different plans have different coverage limits.

Not all professional liability plans are the same. Although the general idea is to protect you in the event of a lawsuit, how you are protected is where things begin to differ. Even two plans with the same coverage limits can be quite different. For example, some companies reimburse you for your expenses if you are sued. The AACN Plan pays for you, so you won’t have to pay anything up front.

Myth: There’s no point in having insurance if you aren’t covered for suits that are found groundless.
Fact: You can be covered for expenses from a groundless suit.

Under the AACN plan, legal fees and court costs incurred by the insurer on your behalf are paid for covered claims, in addition to the liability limits, even if the suit is groundless, false or fraudulent. You will not have to worry about suffering from the expense of a lawsuit brought by someone who is interested in suing only for the money.

The AACN Professional Liability Insurance Plan administered by Seabury & Smith is underwritten by Chicago Insurance Company, one of the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Companies. For more information about this plan, contact Seabury & Smith, 332 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604; phone, (800) 621-3008, ext. 45105; or visit the AACN Web site at www.aacn.org. Click on “Membership,” then “Benefits” and “Personal Resources” to access the Seabury & Smith Web site online.


Illinois Recognizes CCNS Certification

Yet another state has formally recognized CCNS� certification for advanced practice status. The action by the state of Illinois brings the total number of states that have granted this recognition to 16.

AACN Certification Corporation has contacted the state boards of nursing in all 50 states to request approval of the CCNS exam process for this role. Depending on the wording of each state’s specific statute or rule for recognizing the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) role for advanced practice, this approval can be either of AACN Certification Corporation as an authorized certification body or of the exam itself.

Other states that have to date approved the CCNS exam or listed AACN Certification Corporation as an approved certification body are Alabama, California, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Note: Certification obtained through AACN Certification Corporation is a voluntary process and is intended to test only for specialized knowledge. AACN Certification Corporation is not authorized to define qualifications of any person for nursing practice. The significance of certification in any jurisdiction is dependent on the statutes in that jurisdiction, and it is the individual candidate’s responsibility to contact the appropriate state board of nursing to obtain information pertaining to licensure requirements.


June 15 Deadline to Submit Nominations for AACN Certification Corporation Board

Remember. June 15, 2001, is the postmark deadline to submit nominations of individuals to serve on the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors for 2002-03. Invited are nominations for the office of chair-elect and for two directors. Terms begin July 1, 2002.

The board is made up of individuals from the disciplines being certified, as well as consumer representatives. These board members are accountable for addressing the needs of the users of the certification program.

Reimbursement for travel as well as other expenses are provided for all of these national volunteer positions. Following are brief descriptions of the AACN Certification Corporation positions for which nominations are invited:

Chair-Elect (One 1-Year Term)—The chair-elect works to become familiar with the duties of the chair and consults with the chair to prepare for continuity and a smooth transition of leadership. He or she performs all duties of that position in the chair’s absence.

Director (Two 2-Year Terms)—A director actively participates in governance to ensure the corporation's financial viability and growth; evaluate organizational outcomes based on established priorities and action plans; monitor the impact of corporation initiatives on patient care and healthcare delivery systems; articulate positions and policies to key stakeholders; and ensure a successful relationship between AACN and AACN Certification Corporation. Nominations for both nurse leaders and consumer representatives are being accepted for these positions.

For more information about the Call for Nominations, contact Jan Buffington at (800) 394-5995, ext. 307, or visit the AACN Web site at www.aacn.org. Click on “Membership,” then “Volunteer Opportunities.”
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