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How to Deal with Professional Liability Issues Remotely

By Grace Murphy:

Professional liability issues can bring a range of additional problems into the mix if they are not resolved at the earliest. Due to current developments, learning to resolve those issues from a remote environment has become a necessity. The good news is that remotely dealing with professional liability is not that difficult if you know how to go about it. Let’s discuss a few of the important steps next.

Step 1: Data Protection
Data theft is the biggest threat and failure to prevent it can lead to serious repercussions ranging from loss of reputation to ruinous lawsuits. Whether it’s EHR, sensitive financial information, or client/customer details, it is the professional’s responsibility to keep this data secured from unauthorized access and usage.

Therefore, when professional associates must work in a remote environment, that digital environment has to be secured with business-grade security measures. It can prove to be difficult though since remote access can open up numerous additional vulnerability points. A few of the effective measures to secure data and prevent related liability problems are as follows:

  • Only registered and properly secured devices (laptops/desktops/smartphones/tablets) are to be used for accessing the system.
  • Unverified links and emails are not to be opened from any registered device with access to the company’s system.
  • All data must be regularly and frequently backed up onto the connected cloud storage provider.
  • Identity access management (IAM) must be implemented with limited signed-in time, multi-factor authentications, and risk-based authentications.
  • The antimalware prevention, detection, and removal system must be present and active on each device that has access to the system.

Step 2: Professional Liability Insurance Policy Check
Having insurance coverage to protect against professional liability for your small business will help you avert future disasters. Whether you are a surgeon, a business consultant or an electrician, your business will always be susceptible to professional liability lawsuits. Even if you do not believe that you are responsible for the blame being put on you as a professional, that viewpoint is insufficient to protect your business, your employees, or your reputation from the negative impacts of a costly professional negligence lawsuit.

Having the appropriate type of insurance, however, can stop any of that from getting out of hand. If you are at fault, professional liability insurance will help cover a major portion of the settlement costs, but if you wish to fight against the allegation, expenses associated with the legal defense will be covered to a large extent. Either way, professional liability insurance is the best backup that any professional can have. The question you need to ask your insurer is whether your policy covers professional liability circumstances, unique to remote work environments. If the current policy does not cover such instances, upgrading to a new policy, or even shifting insurers might be necessary.

Step 3: Quality of Service Check
A psychiatrist or therapist counselling someone over a video call may or may not be as effective as the traditional method. Therefore, the patient party must be made aware of the possible limitations, and their practice policies should be amended by a lawyer to appropriately reflect the same. Failure to do so can raise professional negligence allegations, whether they are true or not.

Similarly, any other service that involves interacting with a client/customer/patient remotely for providing services that were previously provided face-to-face, the quality of service must be checked for compatibility, adequacy, and effectiveness first. Following the check, client agreement contracts and company policies must also be changed to reflect those findings in legal terms.

Professional Liability Vs Employer’s Liability
It should be noted that professional liability and employer’s liability are separate, legal accountabilities. Professional liability concerns the legal accountability which a skilled professional (lawyers, surgeons, electricians, plumbers, consultants, etc.) owes to their clients/customers/patients.

On the other hand, employer’s liability refers to the accountability of an employer to a customer/client/patient, due to the action(s) of their employee(s). Liability issues stemming from either of the two can be addressed remotely for the most part, but the steps would be different to some degree, except in instances where they overlap. An instance of overlapping would be when a nurse is alleged to be responsible for medical negligence, while under the employment of a clinic. Employer’s liability will automatically transfer the accountability to the clinic’s owner(s).

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