COVID-19 Lawsuit Protection for Healthcare Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an incredible amount of stress on people throughout the United States and here in Tennessee. This includes our incredibly courageous health care workers. However, that does not mean that medical professionals have not and will not make mistakes during this ongoing pandemic. Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the country, and victims are generally able to hold negligent medical providers accountable for their actions through medical malpractice lawsuits. However, Governor Bill Lee recently signed an executive order that extended COVID-19 civil liability protection to health care providers.

What does this civil liability protection entail?

Civil liability protection for health care workers essentially grants them immunity from lawsuits related to issues arising due to COVID-19. In issuing this executive order, Gov. Lee said that “This order provides limited liability protection, with respect to the services they render that are not considered gross negligence or willful misconduct.”

This executive order applies to various health care providers, including hospitals, nursing homes, and the medical professionals employed there. Gov. Lee said that state law allows him to take such executive actions to protect health care workers.

The Tennessee Medical Association, a group that represents thousands of doctors across the state, supported the action taken by the governor. The group says that business is anything but usual right now, and that they encourage a special session of the legislature to also consider liability issues more in-depth, to include telemedicine regulations.

Unfortunately, Gov. Lee and no members of the legislature in Tennessee discussed the rights of patients during this ongoing pandemic. One important question to ask is – why should healthcare professionals be given immunity concerning COVID-19? Medical malpractice cases are incredibly difficult to prove to begin with. Those who are injured due to a medical error must prove that a medical professional operated below the acceptable standard of care in a given situation.

Now, it seems that medical professionals will be immune from any lawsuits arising due to COVID-19. Does this mean that health care facilities and medical professionals can relax their infection control protocols? What if a medical professional fails to recognize the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and misses a diagnosis?

It could be argued that medical malpractice lawsuits are a way to ensure that health care facilities and medical professionals perform their duties with an adequate standard of care for every patient. Passing immunity laws or executive orders could lead to professionals letting their guard down concerning coronavirus issues at a time when, by all accounts, we are in danger of having a second surge in cases as Fall approaches.

What can you do to stay safe?

If you believe that you or a loved one may have COVID-19, you still need to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. However, due to the executive order passed by the governor, you should take extra care to insist that your loved one receives the proper treatment to diagnose the virus and that they receive adequate care if a diagnosis is made. The best advocate a patient has is themselves and their family members.

If you have additional questions about COVID-19 and how it may relate to your personal injury claim, reach out to our Nashville injury attorneys.