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communicable diseases exclusion

A communicable diseases exclusion is an exclusion found within a substantial minority of physicians professional liability insurance policies that precludes coverage for claims caused by the transmission of communicable diseases.

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The wording of this exclusion usually consists of two parts. The first part excludes coverage for claims caused by a physician's refusal to treat a person who has (or is suspected of having) a communicable disease. The second part of the exclusion eliminates coverage for claims in which a patient alleges that an insured physician transferred a communicable disease to the patient. The rationale for the first part of the exclusion is that, with proper precautions, even patients having communicable diseases can usually be treated without endangering the physician or other staff members. The rationale for the second part of the exclusion is that, given the nature of a doctor's work, a physician is usually in a good position to know if they have contracted a communicable disease. Therefore, physicians who are aware they have a communicable disease should not be practicing medicine until the disease is completely cured. Accordingly, many of the policies exclude coverage for claims involving a doctor who transmits a communicable disease to a patient they are treating.