Frequently Asked Questions

Insurance Coverage

1. What kind of professional liability coverage do I have?
As of October 1, 2007: The George Washington University entered into an agreement with the Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) to have its employed physicians, residents and interns covered under the MFA's Medical Professional Liability insurance policy. This coverage is written by the MFA's captive insurance company, MFA Physicians Insurance Company, Ltd. domiciled in the Cayman Islands. The policy has limits of $3 million per occurrence and $12 million in the annual aggregate. Coverage is written on a claims made basis.

Prior to September 30, 2007: The George Washington University provided Professional Liability coverage for its employed physicians, residents, and interns through the George Washington Medical Professional Liability Trust Fund. The coverage under the Trust was written on an occurrence basis and provided limits of at least $1 million per claim and $3 million in the annual aggregate for acts within the scope of the individual's employment and/or training.

2. Am I covered by GWU if I moonlight at another hospital?
No. Your professional liability coverage at GWU only covers you for acts within the scope of your employment. If you are working for another facility, you will either need to purchase your own individual professional liability coverage, or obtain coverage from the facility employing you.

3. Do I need to buy a "tail" when I leave GWU?
As of October 1, 2007: No. Although the MFA's Medical Professional Liability insurance is written on a claims made basis and coverage will terminate at the time the physician leaves employment with GW, the policy will continue to provide coverage for all services rendered on behalf of GW during the physician's employment for the remainder of the policy period and any subsequent renewal.

Prior to September 30, 2007: No. Because your coverage was provided on an occurrence basis, any claim that may arise against you in the future that is as a result of and within the scope of your employment here at GWU is covered by the Trust. The coverage limits that will be available for the claim are those limits that were in effect at the time the incident occurred.

4. I am graduating from my residency soon, and applying for privileges to practice at other hospitals. How do I obtain a claims history and verification of my insurance coverage?
For any query regarding claims history and/or verification, kindly refer to the Graduate Medical Education Office's website.

Subpoenas & Lawsuits

1. I received/was served a subpoena regarding a former patient I took care of. What should I do with it?
The Office of the General Counsel for the University has specific procedures to follow in the instance that you are approached by or served with a subpoena. Additionally, if you accepted service of the document, make a note of the date and time you accepted the document. Call the Office of the General Counsel immediately at 202-994-6503.

2. I received a telephone call from an attorney asking to speak with me about a patient I cared for. Should I talk to him/her?
Do not have any discussions with an attorney who is calling to speak with you about a patient, unless you have been informed by the Office of Risk Management, or counsel from the University's Office of the General Counsel, that it is appropriate to do so. You may inform the caller that you are not authorized to speak with them, and refer them to the Office of Risk Management at 202-994-3265 or the Office of the General Counsel at 202-994-6503.

Graduate Medical Education Office

1. In what situations must I contact the Graduate Medical Education office?
Because we rely on students, interns, and residents for notification regarding adverse patient outcomes, it is important that you contact the Graduate Medical Education Office in the following situations:

  • Death as a result of an actual or suspected adverse event
  • Loss or impairment of limb or organ
  • Wrong patient/wrong site surgical procedure
  • Incorrect invasive treatment or procedure
  • Unintentionally retained foreign body
  • Suicide or attempted suicide of a patient
  • Elopement from facility
  • Brain damage as a result of procedure or treatment
  • Any infant born with an Apgar <6 at 5 minutes
  • Shoulder dystocia with brachial plexus injury
  • Ruptured uterus
  • Hysterectomy in post-partum woman
  • Intravascular catheter related events
  • Peri-operative or peri-procedural related peripheral or CNS deficits
  • Loss of sight
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Severe disfigurement, including but not limited to burns and amputations
  • All sentinel events
  • Contact from an attorney regarding a former patient

This list is not inclusive of all events that may require a notice to Graduate Medical Education office. If a resident becomes aware of an unexpected outcome and has a concern that it may give rise to a claim, it should be reported as a precautionary notice. Finally, if a resident believes there is the potential for an adverse outcome to a patient, we encourage you to notify the Graduate Medical Education office, as these reports are important to the process of continuous quality improvement of patient care, and the improvement of patient outcomes.

In addition to reporting to Graduate Medical Education office, please notify the Program Director of the relevant program through the Chief Resident.