Massachusetts Sees Rise in Obesity Rate

There are more than 27% of adults with obesity in Massachusetts, and more than 35% are considered overweight, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the Boston metro area alone, the adult obesity rate has risen to 22%.

While Massachusetts currently ranks low at 47th for obesity among U.S. states, the increasing prevalence of obesity has become a concern. Although the state needs bariatric surgeons, complex bariatric surgeries carry a high risk of serious intraoperative patient injuries and post-operative complications.

That’s why Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts.

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If you are a Massachusetts bariatric surgeon in private practice, or planning to open a new practice in Massachusetts, 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 Massachusetts Bariatric Surgeons

Massachusetts law requires surgeons to maintain medical malpractice insurance with the required minimum coverage amounts for claims against injury or death set at $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year.

However, bariatric surgery is considered a high-risk specialty, so you will need more coverage than $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year 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 Massachusetts. 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.

Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements Checklist

Types of Professional Liability Insurance for Massachusetts Bariatric Surgeons

Here is an brief overview of the three most common types of medical malpractice insurance in Massachusetts:

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.

Reach out to an experienced MEDPLI insurance broker who will get to work for you to find 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 Massachusetts 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.

A Rated Medical Malpractice Insurance Carriers In Massachusetts

Get Quotes from A-Rated Carriers Serving Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts include:

  • Coverys Group (ProSelect and ProMutual)

  • Medical Protective

  • The Doctors Company

  • ISMIE Indemnity

  • ProAssurance

Why Bariatric Surgeons Are Classified as High Risk by Massachusetts 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, no matter what state you practice in, the cost of medical malpractice insurance will be higher for bariatric surgeons compared to other lower-risk specialties.

Top Reasons Why Massachusetts 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

Also, according to a 2022 closed claim registry report by the ASMBS, Massachusetts bariatric surgeons have been sued for malpractice most often for failing to:

  • Identify gastric fluid leak

  • Recognize signs of pulmonary embolism

  • Treat post-operative gastric bypass bleeding

  • Properly screen for appropriate gastric bypass patients

Top Reasons Massachusetts Bariatric Surgeons Are Sued For Malpractice

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.

Massachusetts’s Medical Malpractice Insurance Legislation

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

Massachusetts’s Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

In Massachusetts there is no limit on the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover for past and future economic damages, such as medical care necessitated by the malpractice, lost income, lost future earning capacity, and any other measurable economic losses attributable to the defendant’s malpractice.

Previously, Massachusetts statutes allowed a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages (which included compensation for “pain and suffering”) and a $1,000,000 cap on non-economic damages if the malpractice resulted in death or a vegetative state, but these statutes were struck down as unconstitutional in 2017.

Massachusetts’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

The statutes of limitations in Massachusetts are as follows:

  • An individual in Massachusetts is required to file a medical malpractice claim within three years from the date of injury or date of discovery (or date of reasonable discovery)

  • If the patient is receiving ongoing treatment from the defendant provider for the same medical condition, the three-year deadline starts when the patient actually knows the defendant’s negligence was the cause of injury (the discovery rule does not apply)

  • The three-year statute of limitations can be paused in cases where the patient is incapacitated by mental illness, the defendant provider is living out of state, or if the defendant provider fraudulently hides the negligent action

  • The state’s statute of repose mandates that under most circumstances, a lawsuit must be filed within seven years after the date of injury

  • For minors younger than 6 at the time of injury, lawsuits can be filed up until the minor’s 9th birthday

  • For minors 6 or older at the time of injury, the three-year deadline applies

Bariatric Surgeon Medical Malpractice Outcomes in Massachusetts

With no cap on economic damages and non-economic damages capped at $500,000, bariatric surgeons in Massachusetts are more vulnerable to personal financial loss if they don’t have adequate medical malpractice coverage.

In 2022, the total medical malpractice payout in Massachusetts was $183,291,300.

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

Jury Awards Bariatric Surgery Patient $5 Million

A male patient suffered anoxic brain injury following gastric bypass surgery.

Bariatric Surgery Case Settled for $1 Million

During a revision of his Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, a male patient suffered complications from a bowel perforation, resulting in sepsis, additional surgeries, and hand amputation.

Even the Best Bariatric Surgeons In Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts.

  • 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. Some of our carrier partners offer discounts for risk management and provide CMEs.

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

  • Reviewing and consulting with you on all 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 Massachusetts’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.