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Memorandum - FTCA Coverage Compared to Malpractice Insurance

Richard D. Olson, M.D., M.P.H.
Acting Director, Office of Clinical and Preventive Services
Indian Health Service

DATE: June 3, 2008

In accordance with Federal law, health care clinicians employed by the Federal government and health care clinicians providing medical, surgical, dental, or related functions pursuant to an Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act contract or compact are provided medical malpractice liability protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for damage for personal injury, including death, resulting from the performance of medical, surgical, dental, and related functions, which is exclusive of any other civil action or proceeding. This “FTCA coverage” applies to licensed, registered or certified health care clinicians and other persons authorized to provide medical or other professional health care services within the scope of their official duties. 25 U.S.C. § 450f.

The Federal Tort Claims Act obviates the requirement that IHS employees carry private malpractice insurance as the United States consents to be sued in place of Federal employees for any damages to property or for personal injury or death caused by the negligence or wrongful act or omission of Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. 28 U.S.C. §§2671–2680

FTCA coverage is comparable to an “occurrence” policy without a monetary cap. Therefore, any coverage limits that may be mandated by other organizations are met. For example, a $1 million each claim/$3 million aggregate occurrence is met since FTCA would as appropriate provide for the payment to a plaintiff to any damages awarded as a result of a judgment or a settlement approved by the Attorney General.

For further information, please contact the Claims and Employment Law Branch, General Law Division, Office of the General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C., at (202) 619–2155.