What is not known about the coronavirus is more than what is known. Information comes in snippets day after day. The only certainty during uncertain times is that while some age groups respond differently, no human being is immune.
Health care workers on the front lines are working hard to fight COVID-19. They are putting their well-being at risk to provide the care that growing numbers of patients need. Just as with any disease or injury, a wide range in the overall quality of care exists. Many professionals are taking on roles that are outside their specialty areas while having to make immediate decisions on a medical condition that is, at best, still a mystery.
Are Current Protections Disqualifying Legitimate Legal Actions?
In the midst of the historic pandemic, should these essential medical workers be immune from future claims of malpractice? In several states, governors have signed executive orders, and legislatures have passed and enacted laws to protect doctors, nurses, and staff from future lawsuits. A bill at the federal level is also under consideration.
While the thought of suing people on the front lines seems inappropriate at this point in a worldwide health crisis, litigation will likely occur at some point, particularly if lawyers have evidence that doctors fell short in the standards of quality care. Medical facilities are already preparing for legal actions due to the sheer volume of current COVID-19 cases that continue to come in.
With medical professionals protected by law from legal action, patients and their family members who have legitimate malpractice claims could be left with little, if any, recourse.
Many health care workers have more than earned their “hero status.” No one is disputing their significant contributions during these trying times. Errors and oversights may be the exception and not the rule. However, in those unique situations, patients and their loved ones will still have rights following this pandemic and long into the future.