What to Do If Malpractice Occurs at Your FQHC?

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Even one medical malpractice lawsuit is bad for your business and your mission. As a federally funded provider, your facility is governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). More than 1,100 community health facilities are operating at 8,500 sites around the U.S. Together, these important healthcare organizations provide care to 29 million at-risk and low-income patients in medically underserved areas around the country. What are the rules when malpractice occurs at these facilities?

What is the FTCA?

The FTCA has been around since 1946. It allows citizens to sue the government for any injuries inflicted or caused by federal government employees. This allows the federal government, instead of the agency where the malpractice occurred, to defend against the claim and pay out any settlements that occur.

Basically, the FTCA is a type of malpractice insurance extended to federally qualified and funded healthcare facilities. If a malpractice claim is filed against your facility or an employed provider within it, it’s as if the litigant is filing against the federal government.

FQHCs must file applications annually with the Department of Health and Human Services to fall under the protection of the FTCA. The application allows the government agency to review your credentialing, quality improvement programs, risk management protocols, and any malpractice claims you’ve had in the past. If you receive this coverage, you become a “deemed facility,” and all eligible providers operating under your purview are considered federal employees who have no personal malpractice liability.

Under the FTCA, qualified organizations are deemed as federal employees. This makes them immune from personal liability for any medical malpractice claims stemming from their work at your FQHC. If your health center or an individual providing care are sued, the case will move to a U.S. District Court. The United States will then become the named defendant in the case.

For patients to file a claim (tort) through the FTCA, they must demonstrate:

  • They were injured by a federal employee.
  • The employee was acting within the requirements or scope of their job description.
  • The employee was negligent or acted wrongly.

Is My Facility Eligible for FTCA Coverage?

The FTCA is a huge win for risk management in federally funded facilities. Managing the risk of malpractice is important for any healthcare provider. But for the healthcare professionals working under the auspices of an FQHC, malpractice coverage under the FTCA is potentially a huge benefit for both employee and employer. After the law was in effect, studies showed it saved millions for FQHCs that qualified for FTCA protection.

To qualify for FTCA coverage, your facility must demonstrate:

  • Established procedures to reduce the risk of malpractice.
  • That you reviewed and verified the credentials of the medical providers you employ.
  • Clearly defined job descriptions for each provider’s duties.
  • Demographic data on your patient population.

UHC Solutions works with our FQHC clients to help them find the best talent to serve in their facilities. Talk with our team today about how we can help ease the pressure of your hiring goals.