Health Care Professional Liability Protections During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought about significant life changes and many worries for everyone across the country. As health care facilities and professionals are working to get the situation under control, they are following all guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other federal, state, and local directives. However, many questions regarding potential liability of healthcare professionals have been raised during this time. As a result, the Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a letter and guidance urging governors to take action that shield health care professionals from medical liability law. Continue reading to learn more.

What Federal Protections Were Put in Place?

In response to the pandemic, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. This included Good Samaritan language that allows additional federal liability protections for volunteer health care professionals who are assisting with COVID-19 emergency response. It states that physicians and other professionals who provide volunteer medical services during the emergency cannot be liable for providing services that relate to the diagnoses, prevention, or treatment of the virus or the assessment or care of a patient related to a diagnosed or suspected case of the virus. Limited exceptions can include gross negligence, criminal misconduct, and providing care while intoxicated.

In addition to this, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) gives board immunity protections to health care professionals who administer or use countermeasures covered by declarations issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 also provides liability protections to volunteers and physicians who are performing services for nonprofit organizations or government entities. 

What Protections Did New York Put in Place?

Many states are thinking of ways they can extend liability protections for health care workers during these trying times. In the state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order amending New York’s Good Samaritan statute. The amendment will now provide broad civil immunity to health care professionals for any injury or death alleged to have been directly as a result of an act or omission by such a medical professional in the course of providing medical services in support of the state’s response to the pandemic. This is unless it was established that the injury or death was caused by gross negligence. The executive order is valid through April 22, 2020 as of now. 

Contact our Firm

When a medical professional is accused of misconduct, it is essential that they retain strong legal representation. If you require a medical law attorney for your legal matters, call Paul E. Walker, an experienced New York City OPMC & OPD Lawyer. Please contactthe Walker Medical Law firm to set up a free initial consultation.