Q&A: Malpractice insurance and claims of defamation

November 21, 2008

Does malpractice insurance cover charges of defamation?

Q: I am a medical review officer who was recently sued by an ex-employee who tested positive in my office for alcohol and was later terminated. The plaintiff dropped the case after his deposition was taken, but not before I incurred significant legal expenses. I was told by my malpractice carrier that I am not covered for the charge of "defamation." He suggested that I should carry a separate errors and omissions policy that would protect me in the future. Can you tell me where to go to purchase an E&O policy to protect me from this happening again?

A: The answer to whether your malpractice insurance covers the defamation claim depends upon the language of your policy. Some policies include coverage for defamation, while others specifically exclude it. As for E&O insurance, you should contact an insurance broker to discuss not only obtaining that coverage, but also to evaluate the scope and level of insurance you currently maintain. Perhaps you purchased insurance directly, rather than through a broker. A good broker should have explained the scope of coverage and the availability of additional coverage to you at the time of purchase. Certainly, the broker should have been involved if there was a coverage dispute with the carrier.