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Illinois Orthopedic Surgeons Guide to Medical Malpractice Insurance

If you are an Illinois orthopedic surgeon in private practice, or planning to open a new practice in Illinois, use this guide prepared by independent SURGPLI insurance brokers to give you a concise overview of medical malpractice insurance. Then contact a SURGPLI insurance broker to discuss your coverage needs and get a quote.

Illinois Orthopedic Surgeons Need Robust Malpractice Coverage

Illinois is recognized as a destination for innovative orthopedic surgery. For example, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago was ranked #8 in the nation for high-performing orthopedic surgical care on the 2023-2024 “Best Hospitals Honor Roll” by U.S. News and World Report. Illinois orthopedic surgeons specializing in foot and ankle procedures, sports medicine, and orthopedic trauma surgery, in particular, are in constant demand to meet increasing patient volumes throughout the state.

However, Illinois is also among the top 10 most litigious U.S. states for medical malpractice. The National Practitioner Data Bank reports that more than 1,500 medical malpractice claims were filed in Illinois in 2022. That’s why Illinois orthopedic surgeons need robust and affordable medical malpractice coverage.

As your only trusted broker, SURGPLI will help you find the right coverage at the best rate in Illinois.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Requirements for Illinois Orthopedic Surgeons

Illinois law does not require orthopedic surgeons to carry medical malpractice insurance to practice in the state. The standard limits of liability in Illinois are $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year in coverage.

SURGPLI strongly recommends securing coverage from an A-rated carrier as the most cost-effective way to protect against devastating financial loss if you are sued for malpractice in Illinois. As an independent broker, we specialize in medical malpractice insurance for orthopedic surgeons. We work for you to find the best policy at a great price.

Cost of Medical Malpractice Insurance for Illinois Orthopedic Surgeons

Each insurance carrier uses its own proprietary methods of setting the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Carriers consider factors such as practice location, surgical specialty, and past claims history.

In Illinois, the areas that typically carry the highest rates are: Chicago (Cook County); Madison and St. Clair Counties (Metro East Illinois counties adjacent to the Greater St. Louis, MO, area).

The following are approximate medical malpractice insurance premium rates for orthopedic surgeons across all Illinois areas:

Specialty Approximate Claims Made Rate Approximate Tail Rate Approximate Occurrence Rate
Orthopedic surgery $100,000 $200,000 $125,000

*Using the IL standard limits of $1,000,000 Each Claim / $3,000,000 Aggregate per year in coverage. These rates are estimates only and can vary widely depending on the location and the claims history of each physician.

Types of Professional Liability Insurance for Illinois Orthopedic Surgeons

Here is an brief overview of the most common types of medical malpractice insurance in Illinois:

Claims Made Insurance
Claims-made malpractice insurance provides coverage if the policy is in effect both when the incident took place AND when the claim is filed. If a claim is filed after the end of the policy date, the claim is NOT covered. With a claims-made policy, you need tail malpractice insurance, which is a separately purchased insurance policy or endorsement, to make sure you have full protection

Occurrence Insurance
Occurrence malpractice insurance provides coverage for incidents that occurred during the policy year, regardless of when a claim is reported to the carrier. Occurrence policies are more costly at the start of the policy, but the rate does not “step up”, and there is no need for tail coverage when the policy ends.

Tail Insurance
Since most malpractice insurance policies are underwritten on a claims-made basis, you will be exposed to a lawsuit if a former patient files a claim against you and you do not secure tail coverage. When you are preparing to leave your employer, you should seek tail coverage options with an independent broker like SURGPLI. Tail insurance covers you for a specific time period. The new employer’s policy is not going to cover you for prior acts of a former practice, hence tail coverage is needed. Read more about tail malpractice insurance for orthopedic surgeons.

Reach out to an experienced SURGPLI insurance broker who will the legwork for you to find a tail policy at a great price.

Let a SURGPLI Broker Help You Choose the Best Policy for Your Practice

Every medical specialist’s situation is unique, so we recommend a conversation with a SURGPLI insurance broker to discuss the unique needs of your Illinois practice. Your SURGPLI broker will explain the benefits and limitations of each type of medical malpractice insurance to ensure you get the right type and amount of coverage for your orthopedic surgery specialty at the best rate.

Get Quotes from A-rated Carriers Serving Illinois Orthopedic Surgery

SURGPLI insurance brokers will obtain quotes from medical malpractice insurance from carriers rated “A” by A.M. Best for their long-term financial solvency and robust legal support of policyholders. Some of the top carriers include:

  • The Doctors Company (TDC)
  • MedPro Group
  • ProAssurance
  • NORCAL Group (A Part of ProAssurance)
  • Coverys Group

Why Orthopedic Surgeons Are Classified as High Risk by Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies

Medical malpractice insurance underwriters classify orthopedic surgery as a high-risk specialty because surgical errors or post-surgical complications could be devastating to the patient’s mobility, physical well-being, and quality of life. These include high-risk surgeries for total knee and hip replacement, spinal fusion and laminectomy, and procedures on the hand and foot.

Top Reasons Why Illinois Orthopedic Surgeons Are Sued

A review of malpractice claims by The Doctors Company, an “A” rated medical malpractice insurance carrier, found that the top three major orthopedic surgical injuries were related to “an aggravated or worsened preoperative condition”, including increased pain, decreased mobility, nerve damage, and postoperative pain. Other potential orthopedic errors that most often trigger malpractice litigation include:

  • Surgical site infections causing post-operative complications
  • Extensive bleeding in spinal procedures
  • Major blood vessel injury
  • Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism post-operative

In addition, some of the most often cited allegations in Illinois orthopedic surgery medical malpractice cases include:

  • Failure to diagnose fractures
  • Improper treatment of fractures
  • Failure to diagnose nerve impingement
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Improper placement of a replacement bone

Orthopedic surgeons can reduce their risk of a malpractice lawsuit by implementing a comprehensive risk management strategy.

Illinois’ Medical Malpractice Insurance Legislation

Consulting with a SURGPLI insurance broker who understands the complexities of Illinois’ medical malpractice laws will ensure that your orthopedic surgery practice is protected with the right amount of coverage.

Illinois’ Damage Caps on Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Illinois currently has no limit on compensation for economic and non-economic patient injuries as a result of medical malpractice. However, Illinois does not allow rewards for punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Illinois’ Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

According to state law, conditions for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois are:

  • Within two (2) years from the date the patient knew or should have known of the injury
  • Illinois law prohibits patients from bringing a lawsuit more than four (4) years after the medically negligent act occurred
  • There is a special statute of limitations for patients who are minors at the time the medical malpractice occurred. Anyone under the age of 18 has up to eight (8) years to file a lawsuit, as long as the suit is filed before the patient turns 22.

Orthopedic Surgery Medical Malpractice Outcomes in Illinois

With no cap on economic damages and non-economic damages, orthopedic surgeons in Illinois are more vulnerable to personal financial loss if they do not have robust medical malpractice insurance. The total medical malpractice payout in Illinois was $148,628,000 in 2022. The following examples of Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits found in favor of the plaintiff or settled show the critical need for orthopedic surgeons to have strong liability coverage:

$1.1 Million Settlement
An orthopedic surgeon was sued for alleged surgical negligence after the 57-year-old patient was left with unequal leg lengths after hip replacement surgery.

Jury Awards $820,000
The plaintiff brought suit alleging negligent nerve injury to the right hand during surgery for carpal tunnel release.

How SURGPLI Brokers Help Orthopedic surgeons Save Time and Money on Medical Malpractice Insurance

Working with SURGPLI as your trusted broker takes the guesswork and effort out of trying to get the right coverage at the best rate on your own. We help you save time and money by:

  • Researching all of your best coverage, rate, and “A” rated carrier options that specifically meet the requirements of your specialty and practice location in Illinois
  • Asking about any policy discounts offered for a new practice, medical association members, or physicians with no previous claims, for example. Some of our carrier partners offer discounts for risk management and provide CMEs.
  • Researching flexible payment options offered by carriers to best fit the budget for your practice.
  • Reviewing and consulting with you on all quotes, payment options, and possible discounts to help you make the best choice of coverage and rate for your needs.

Have Questions? Need a Quote? Ask a SURGPLI Insurance Broker Now.

SURGPLI insurance brokers are ready to help you navigate the complexities of California’s MICRA medical malpractice tort reforms and secure the right amount of coverage for your orthopedic surgery practice. From submitting your application, obtaining the best rates for new policies and renewals from “A” rated carriers, and more, SURGPLI is the only medical malpractice insurance broker you’ll need.

Get a fast quote for medical malpractice insurance or call us at 1-800-969-1339

Max Schloemann

About the Author

Max Schloemann is a medical malpractice insurance broker, focused on helping physicians secure Medical Professional Liability coverage. He helps Doctors and Surgeons, as well as Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and healthcare entrepreneurs launch new medical practices across the country. Max graduated Magna cum Laude from Southern Illinois University College of Business and was named the Outstanding Management Senior. Max’s career in medical malpractice insurance began in 2008 with an industry-leading firm. Max founded SURGPLI in 2023 to help surgeons navigate the complexities of medical malpractice insurance in the new era of healthcare. Max’s wife, Kristen, a Physician Assistant, and their 4 kids (plus 1 dog) enjoy hiking, golf, and cooking.

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