Covering Covid-19: Is Your Medical Laboratory at Risk?

February 5, 2021 •

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 continuing global pandemic, medical testing laboratories have been in the spotlight.

More people than ever know that medical analytic, or medical testing laboratories analyze samples of blood or urine and report the results back to the ordering healthcare provider to interpret the results, allowing for a more accurate diagnosis of medical conditions than relying on clinical diagnosis alone.

This added level of confirmation is imperative in today’s medical care. As most American’s have experienced, testing has taken on an entirely new meaning. We see long lines of cars full of people awaiting medical testing. Medical laboratory technicians in PPE, testing for COVID-19 and now vaccinating for COVID-19, are seemingly everywhere and trips to the local pharmacy are replete with warning signs and testing opportunities. Now, more than ever, all eyeing and relying on testing and tracing COVID-19.

Medical labs in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and the stand-alone labs are now familiar and most perform various types of analysis on hundreds of different assays. Lab technicians, who perform the test, can be employees or temporary medical technicians, utilized to fill an urgent need, as in COVID-19 testing.

In the lab, with the strict regulations in place to adhere to, in a controlled laboratory setting, testing is completed successfully, most of the time, with the chain of important information being delivered to the intended recipient(s). With the large increase in patient volume, new standards and new testing, these guidelines are especially important to keep patients and employees safe and to complete testing and tracing efficiently without issue.

What can go wrong?

When things don’t go as they should, medical labs need and depend on a medical laboratories insurance policy, which typically includes professional and general liability, to protect and cover their businesses against losses, should the unfortunate happen.

Deviations from the medical standard of care can result in the wrong testing being performed. In some cases of error, misinterpretation of results can lead to failure to treat or trace a disease in a timely manner and cause allegations of damage from a failure to diagnose a disease or illness. Patient identification accuracy is paramount, and incorrectly attributing a sample to the wrong patient can be a deadly mistake. The medical community relies upon testing, and above all, medical testing must be accurate. Labs can experience erroneous results delivered and bodily injury claims arising from accidents and injuries on site. Implementing medical lab coverage helps protect the lab from these types of claims. In some cases the test itself can be the cause of false readings.

What Are the Risks for Laboratories Testing and Tracing COVID-19?

Some of the main risks associated with operating a COVID-19 medical testing facility include: professional errors and omissions, worker’s compensation, claims arising due to equipment failure, medical negligence and malpractice, and loss due to crimes.

Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Claims of lab errors can also result in claims for HIPAA violations, and major fines for the lab. The differences between medical malpractice and medical negligence are well documented, but your lab doesn’t want allegations of either.

The CDC has clearly outlined requirements when managing patients before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical distancing requirements already in place are not usual for medical laboratories. However, failure of adherence to new guidelines for distancing in waiting areas requires an appropriate reduction in seating to protect against claims of virus transmission. Talk with your liability insurer at NOW Insurance to ensure your facility and employees are covered under the new and important guidelines. The professional liability policy (also known as malpractice insurance) covers these types of claims.

Bodily Injury Claims

Accidents from loose handrails, slip and fall injuries from weather, poor maintenance, and improper lighting are a common concern for most businesses. Medical laboratories have the additional burden of often dealing with patients who are ill and may be health and mobility compromised, compounding the risks. Many mobile labs and testing sites have popped up in vacant parking lots and began business in a hurry to serve the public. There could be unknown hazards at these sites that could cause patient injury. These types of claims are covered by the general liability coverage.

Covering Medical Laboratory Employees

Worker’s Compensation coverage is essential when defending a claim that an employee has been injured on the workplace and helps to cover the lab against loss.

The professional liability from NOW Insurance extends coverage for errors & omissions committed by employees while working on behalf of the company. 

Equipment Malfunction and Failure

Laboratory equipment failure and malfunction can have a devastating effect on a medical lab testing facility. Unexpected equipment failures can be reduced by implementing a planned maintenance optimization program and by training all employees that use the equipment. Labs should always have access to readily available repair technicians and an effective patient notification plan in the event the sample is compromised.

Insurance Against Crimes

Theft, burglary, vandalism, arson. The Medical Laboratory should be prepared for crimes against the lab business property. Ensuring that the property is up to code and there are no safety violations is an important part of a good defense on the lab premises from these types of losses.

Cyber-attacks and Data Breaches

Any entity that collects and stores sensitive patient data is at risk for cyber-attacks. Protected Health Information (PHI) is valuable to hackers. For healthcare entities, the consequences don’t stop at the inconvenience and cost of recovering and restoring stolen data; you also have to answer to HIPAA. Stolen data typically results in a HIPAA violation and you would be subject to fines and either a civil or criminal lawsuit. A cyber liability policy provides financial protection and forensic experts when dealing with the fallout from a data breach.

Take the NOW Insurance Cyber Risk Assessment to find out your lab’s risk level.

How to Reduce Exposure to COVID-19 Lab Error Claims

NOW insurance provides fast, easy and immediate quotes for medical labs, whether they are handling COVID tests or not. Socially distance your lab and your employees from COVID-19 claims by contacting your medical lab tracing and testing insurer today.

Learn more about our new coverage for COVID related classes.