Understanding Common Home Health Care Liabilities
As the baby boomer generation ages, more and more are requiring certain healthcare facilities to take care of their needs. In 2016 it was reported that there were 49.2 million U.S. residents aged 65 and older, which is a 40 percent increase from the numbers reported in 2000. While some choose to go to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, many are choosing to opt for home health care. Modern Healthcare reported that while the number of senior citizens has grown, the number of nursing home residents is decreasing; generally, only the sickest patients go to nursing homes, while adults with less serious maladies tend to find home health care services more comfortable and suitable to their needs. However, home care agencies are not without their risks, and these are the three types of home health care liabilities to prepare for this year.
As with any industry, home health care agencies need to take special care to prevent on-the-job injuries and illnesses, particularly with residents with existing health problems or compromised immune systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 28,600 non-fatal on-the-job accidents, or 3.4 per 1,000 full time workers, in the home health care sector for 2015, with caregivers slipping on loose carpeting being one of the most common sources of injury. Patient injuries are just as big of a risk, and could lead to more difficulties for the insurer as employee injuries will likely be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Depending on the incident in question and whether it could be linked to negligence on the employee’s part, the agency could find itself in hot water without the proper professional liability or errors and omissions coverage. In order to prevent these types of incidents from happening, it is imperative that agency employees thoroughly and regularly inspect the home environment to ensure that it doesn’t have any safety hazards, and that home health care employees be carefully trained and supervised.
On a similar line to the employee negligence liability noted above, another prominent risk in the home health sector is employee theft, which is one of the most common claims reported to carriers. David Dickie, president of insurance agency The Solutions group, referred to theft as the most common claim his company sees and stated, “They tend to be smaller claims compared to other types of claims, but there are a lot of them.” This can refer to the physical theft of items or embezzling the client’s funds or convincing a client to give them money or items. Bonding can cover criminal activities, and in order to reduce the incidence of these activities home health care agencies should put stringent anti-theft measures into place and supervise employees carefully.
The third category is one that has grown greatly in recent years; technological liabilities. As technology has progressed and more and more parts of our work and everyday lives have become digitized, our cyber liabilities have increased. Healthcare facilities are particularly vulnerable to network breaches due to their large amounts of network-based machinery as well as the confidential patient data stored in their databases. While home health agencies have a smaller opportunity for breach than larger hospitals, the opportunity is still there, and a data breach could see the agency being charged with a HIPAA violation. In addition to protecting the physical devices from damage or theft, these agencies need to secure their network and have cyber liability insurance to prevent breaches from compromising their agency and their patients.
About Caitlin Morgan
These are just some loss prevention and risk management strategies that home health care agencies should have in place. Additionally, an end-to-end insurance solution that provides General Liability, Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Employment Practices Liability, Crime, Cyber Liability, Non-Owned Auto, and other key coverages should be part of the organization’s program. Caitlin Morgan is a premier wholesaler providing insurance products for the home healthcare sector, which includes companies that provide healthcare services in patients’ private residences, assisted living or independent living facilities. For more information call us at (317) 575-4440.