Volunteering your time, energy and medical expertise within your community is a rewarding thing to do. Because of your specialized education and years of experience, you have the power to genuinely help people seeking access to medical care! It’s only natural to want to spread the goodwill and get to know some new faces within your community by partnering with a non-profit organization to offer medical services.
But it’s not as simple as waltzing into the nearest free or temporary clinic with your stethoscope in hand. Nor is it merely a matter of throwing open your door and welcoming anyone inside. Successful, impactful volunteering takes planning and foresight—especially because one unfortunate incident could lead to a lawsuit.
For instance, medical professionals must have up-to-date small business liability insurance with high enough policy limits to cover their business operations (both inside and outside their own office). Let’s say you partner with a local non-profit organization to host a free weekend clinic in your office. If someone sustains an injury tripping over a cord or falling while climbing onto an examination table, you could be on the hook for steep liability damages (including medical bills, rehabilitation costs and/or property damage). Your clinic needs general liability coverage in place before volunteering for the exact same reasons it does during regular operations.
Furthermore, volunteering may take place at a remote location. What if a piece of your equipment gets lost, stolen, accidentally damaged or vandalized? When it comes to medical equipment—from simple vital monitoring equipment to specialty surgery tools—it’s important to take all safety and financial precautions. Before you travel to perform medical services, you need to know what the property portion of your Business Owners Policy does and does not cover. You may need to add an off-premises extension of coverage.
Medical professionals should make sure all non-profit partners are legitimate organizations with charitable goals in line with a vision for a healthier society. For example, you may want to donate your time volunteering for a local safety-net clinic that provides various services to uninsured or underinsured segments of the population. This crucial preventative care can lessen the strain on emergency rooms and help link up community members with qualified doctors, nurses and specialists in their time of need. Professionals interested in building this kind of partnership between themselves/their practice and a free clinic can start by reaching out to organizers and getting the legal paperwork squared away before proceeding.
Medical healthcare providers should also be aware of any local, state or national laws before practicing outside their own place of employment. For example, natural disasters tend to draw volunteers from around the country in their aftermath. As one medical school professor reminds us in Medical Economics, “When you go and you donate your time, you have to make sure that you’re licensed in a particular state if you’re practicing medicine.”
By addressing legal and financial concerns before jumping headfirst into volunteering with a non-profit organization, you can ensure the best outcome for everyone involved: patients, partners and your livelihood. Get started with a free small business liability insurance quote from CoverHound!