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4. A nurse practitioner volunteers in a homeless clinic to gain clinical experience. Is malpractice insurance needed?
Malpractice insurance is needed anytime a nurse practitioner is practicing under their nursing license even if they are volunteering. It is extremely important to fully understand what your scope of practice is as an advanced practice nurse. This will vary from state to state. This will prevent any potential discrepancies in the care provided while volunteering.
There are laws such as the Good Samaritan doctrines per State Legislature and the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 per Federal legislature that protect Nurse Practitioners from malpractice lawsuits (Tolbert, 2022). Although, these laws have their own individual limitations and only cover simple negligence. You must also be properly licensed in the state you are volunteering in. Without proper licensure, you will not be covered under most state and federal laws protecting volunteers (Tolbert, 2022). Before volunteering, it is important to fully understand the laws in the state you are planning to volunteer in and federal laws. Not all volunteer organizations offer liability coverage. Doing your due diligence when volunteering or assisting in an emergency is essential.
Tolbert, E. (2022) 3 things nurse practitioners need to know before volunteering, ThriveAP. Available at: https://www.thriveap.com/blog/3-things-nurse-practitioners-need-know-volunteering#:~:text=The%20VPA%20provides%20immunity%20for,the%20appropriate%20authorities%20in%20the
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