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dental hygiene malpractice insurance

If I give shots, will I need to get malpractice insurance?

best practices patient health Oct 04, 2022

North Carolina became the 46th state to certify hygienists to administer local anesthesia. In the US, hygienists administering local anesthesia is the norm not the exception. But it is new to us, and warrants discussion of best practices.   However, is dental hygiene malpractice insurance needed?

Do hygienists get sued? 

Yes, but far less than dentists. Between 2007 and 2017 over 32,000 suits were filed against dentists in the United States. Less than 5,000 were filed against hygienists.   

Is dental hygiene malpractice insurance required?  No, the NC Board of Dental Examiners does NOT require hygienists to carry professional liability insurance. But are you covered under your doctor’s policy? Maybe and maybe not. I carry professional liability insurance (malpractice insurance) through Eastern Dentist Insurance Company. My policy does NOT cover hygienists who administer local anesthesia and there is not an option for me to add that coverage.    

It is important to be aware that coverage under the doctor’s policy also varies for employees versus independent contractors. As a rule, independent contractors are not covered under the doctor’s liability insurance policy.   

So back to square one. Should hygienists get malpractice insurance? Do hygienists get sued and if so, why? 

Top Five Malpractice Claims Against Hygienists (per Today's RDH)

  1. Failure to update medical history 
  2. Failure to thoroughly document in a patient record 
  3. Injury to patient 
  4. Failure to diagnose periodontal disease 
  5. Failure to diagnose oral pathology 

Only one of these five potential claims involves the use of local anesthesia. I do not believe certification to administer local anesthesia is a big consideration when choosing to invest in insurance. I believe professional liability insurance is good idea for all hygienists and a necessity for anyone who does temp work. The cost, less than $100 per year, is low compared to the average settlement of $60,000.

You can learn this and other topics in our local anesthesia classes for dental hygienists.

About the Author

Dr. Elaine Vowell believes dentistry is an awesome profession and continuing education is key to quality care. In 2021, Dr. Vowell created the curriculum for Your Best Shot training course. This comprehensive 24-hour course fulfills all criteria needed for hygienists in North Carolina to become certified to administer local anesthesia.

Although Dr. Elaine Vowell is a dentist by profession, she is not YOUR dentist or employer. All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only. Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a replacement for professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this content. Before making any legal, medical, or financial decisions, always confer with a professional about your individual needs and circumstances.

Learn more about Dr. Vowell & Your Best Shot