Georgia Has Greater Need for Bariatric Surgeons

Nearly 31% of Georgia’s population is considered obese, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Georgia ranks 19 out of 51 U.S. states impacted by obesity and its comorbidities.

As weight loss surgeries have begun to be more utilized in the South, more opportunities are emerging for bariatric surgeons. However, complex bariatric surgeries carry a high risk of serious intraoperative patient injuries and post-operative complications.

That’s why Georgia bariatric surgeons need robust medical malpractice insurance.

As your only trusted broker, MEDPLI will help you find the right coverage at the best rate in Georgia.

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If you are a Georgia bariatric surgeon in private practice, or planning to open a new practice in Georgia, use this guide prepared by independent MEDPLI insurance brokers to give you a concise overview of medical malpractice insurance. Then contact a MEDPLI insurance broker to discuss your coverage needs and get a quote.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements for Georgia Bariatric Surgeons

Georgia bariatric surgeons are not legally required to carry medical malpractice insurance. The standard limits of liability in Georgia are $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year in coverage.

However, bariatric surgery is considered a high-risk specialty, so you will need more coverage to be adequately protected if sued for malpractice.

MEDPLI strongly recommends securing coverage from an A-rated carrier as the most cost-effective way to protect against devastating financial loss if you are sued for malpractice in Georgia. As an independent broker, we specialize in medical malpractice insurance for bariatric surgeons. We can help you find the best coverage at a great price.

Cost of Medical Malpractice Insurance for Georgia Bariatric Surgeons

Each insurance carrier uses its own proprietary methods of setting the cost of medical malpractice insurance for bariatric surgeons. Carriers consider factors such as practice location, surgical specialty, and past claims history.

The following are approximate medical malpractice insurance premium rates for bariatric surgeons across all Georgia areas:

 Specialty Approximate Claims Made Rate Approximate Tail Rate Approximate Occurrence Rate
Bariatric Surgery $90,000 $180,000 $110,000

*Using the GA standard limits of $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year in coverage

Types of Professional Liability Insurance for Georgia Bariatric Surgeons

There are three main types of medical malpractice insurance policies for Georgia bariatric surgeons: claims made, occurrence, and tail. Below you’ll find a brief overview of each option.

1. Claims Made Insurance

Claims-made malpractice insurance provides coverage if the policy is in effect both when the incident took place AND when the claim is filed. If a claim is filed after the end of the policy date, the claim is NOT covered. With a claims-made policy, you need tail malpractice insurance, which is a separately purchased insurance policy or endorsement, to make sure you have full protection.

2. Occurrence Insurance

Occurrence malpractice insurance provides coverage for incidents that occurred during the policy year, regardless of when a claim is reported to the carrier. Occurrence policies are more costly at the start of the policy, but the rate generally stays the same for the length of the policy, and there is no need for tail coverage when the policy ends.

3. Tail Insurance

Since most malpractice insurance policies are underwritten on a claims-made basis, you will be exposed to a lawsuit if a former patient files a claim against you and you do not secure tail coverage. When you are preparing to leave your employer, you should seek tail coverage options with an independent broker like MEDPLI. Tail insurance covers you for a specific time period. The new employer’s policy is not going to cover you for prior acts of a former practice, hence tail coverage is needed.

An independent broker like MEDPLI knows that during this time of transition, you have a lot on your plate. Our friendly brokers do all of the work for you to find you a tail policy at a great price.

Let a MEDPLI Broker Help You Choose the Best Policy for Your Practice

Every surgeon’s situation is unique, so we recommend a conversation with a MEDPLI insurance broker to the discuss the unique needs of your Georgia practice.

Your MEDPLI insurance broker will explain the benefits and limitations of each type of medical malpractice insurance available in your state to ensure you get the right type and amount of coverage for your bariatric specialty.

Georgia A Rated Medical Malpractice Insurance Carriers

Get Quotes from A-Rated Carriers Serving Georgia Bariatric Surgeons

MEDPLI insurance brokers will obtain quotes from medical malpractice insurance from carriers rated “A” by A.M. Best for their long-term financial solvency and robust legal support of policyholders. The top carriers in Georgia include:

  • The Doctors Company

  • MedPro Group

  • MagMutual

  • ProAssurance

  • NORCAL Group (A Part of ProAssurance)

  • Coverys Group

Why Bariatric Surgeons Are Classified as High Risk by Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies

Medical malpractice insurance underwriters classify bariatric surgery as a high-risk specialty because of the surgical side-effects and complications that commonly lead to allegations of malpractice. Therefore, the cost of medical malpractice insurance will be higher for bariatric surgeons compared to other lower-risk specialties.

Top Reasons Why Georgia Bariatric Surgeons Are Sued

A review of malpractice claims data by “A” rated malpractice insurance carrier MedPro Group found that improper surgical performance, poor management of surgical patients, diagnostic errors, and poor doctor/patient communication contributed to the risks of bariatric surgery, including:

  • Infection

  • Hernia

  • Hemorrhage

  • Bowel obstructions

  • Gastritis

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

  • Anastomotic strictures, ulcers, and leaks

  • Deficiencies and poor absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients

And according to a 2022 closed claim registry report by the ASMBS, Georgia bariatric surgeons have been sued for malpractice most often for the following reasons:

  • Incorrect placement of gastric band, causing blockages requiring additional surgery

  • Failure or delay in identifying and correcting gastric band slippage

  • Delay in identifying a leak following gastric bypass

Bariatric surgeons can reduce their risk of a malpractice lawsuit by implementing a comprehensive risk management strategy. For tips on fine-tuning your risk management strategy, check out our Bariatrics Surgeon’s Guide To Managing Risk.

Georgia’s Medical Malpractice Insurance Legislation

Consulting with a MEDPLI insurance broker who understands the complexities of Georgia’s medical malpractice laws will ensure that your bariatric practice is protected with the right amount of coverage.

Georgia’s Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Georgia law does not place a limit on economic damages recoverable from a medical malpractice claim, including compensation for healthcare costs, rehabilitation, ongoing medical care, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and other economic losses.

However, Georgia law still caps punitive or non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases at $250,000. In rare cases, if the claimant can show that the medical professional “acted with egregious negligence or intentional malice”, the court has the ability to raise the non-economic damage limit.

Georgia’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

Generally, the amount of time a person has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years. In some instances, that time can be extended:

  • If the person discovers the injury or it did not manifest itself within the two-year period, they have five years to file from the date the malpractice occurred.

  • If a person finds a foreign object left inside them, they have up to one year to file a lawsuit, regardless of how many years have gone by since the surgery.

  • If someone is mentally disabled, the two-year limit does not apply until they recover – although the five-year limit remains in effect.

  • If the injury occurred before the patient was five years old, the statute of limitations only applies once the patient turns five.

Bariatric Surgeon Medical Malpractice Outcomes in Georgia

With no cap on economic damages, and a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, bariatric surgeons in Georgia are more vulnerable to personal financial loss if they don’t have adequate medical malpractice coverage.

In 2022, the total medical malpractice payout in Georgia was $133,313,250.

The following examples of Georgia medical malpractice lawsuits found in favor of the plaintiff, or paid as a settlement, show the critical need for bariatric surgeons to have more than adequate liability coverage:

Georgia Medical Malpractice Insurance Payouts 2022

Bariatric Surgery Case Settled for $1.1 Million

A female patient suffered septic shock after having bariatric surgery for weight loss. The anesthetist did not fully remove the probe monitoring the patient’s temperature from the woman’s body. The surgeon unknowingly stapled over it while closing the stomach, resulting in a leak of digestive material into the body cavity. The leakage caused an infection leading to septic shock.

Bariatric Surgery Case Settled for $600,000

A female patient died after an internal injury during laparoscopic sleeve surgery resulted in post-op internal bleeding that was undiagnosed and untreated for several hours. The patient suffered hemorrhagic shock, cardiac arrest, multi-organ failure, and finally brain death. The lawsuit alleged failure to properly monitor the patient and communicate her status, failure to recognize that the patient suffered a postoperative bleed, and failure to transfer her to the ICU or back to the operating room for additional treatment.

Even the Best Bariatric Surgeons In Georgia Need Protection From Malpractice Lawsuits

Most surgeons face at least one medical malpractice lawsuit brought forth by a patient throughout their career, so it’s essential to be covered when it happens to you. In addition to damages awarded to the plaintiff, having medical malpractice insurance assures that your legal costs will be covered regardless of whether the case is won or lost.

How MEDPLI Brokers Help Bariatric Surgeons Save Time and Money on Medical Malpractice Insurance

Working with MEDPLI as your trusted broker takes the guesswork and effort out of trying to get the right coverage at the best rate on your own. We help you save time and money by:

  • Researching all of your best coverage, rate, and “A” rated carrier options that specifically meet the requirements of your bariatric specialty and practice location in Georgia.

  • You fill out one application and we provide multiple quotes.

  • Asking about any policy discounts offered for a new practice, medical association members, or physicians with no previous claims, for example.

  • Researching flexible payment options offered by carriers to best fit the budget for your practice.

  • Reviewing and consulting with you on quotes, payment options, and possible discounts to help you make the best choice of coverage and rate for your needs.

MEDPLI insurance brokers are ready to help you navigate the complexities of Georgia’s medical malpractice laws and secure the right amount of coverage for your bariatric surgical practice. From submitting your application, obtaining the best rates for new policies and renewals from “A” rated carriers and more, MEDPLI is the only medical malpractice insurance broker you’ll ever need.