Are Texas Hospitals Liable for Emergency Services During the Covid-19 Crisis?
Hospitals and providers are receiving unprecedented surges in patients due to the spread of the coronavirus and the resulting COVID-19 pandemic. As surges in patients exhibiting coronavirus symptoms continue, medical facilities, staff, and emergency services providers also continue to care for patients with other medical conditions that require inpatient care.
Changes to Government Regulations Maintaining Certain Levels of Care:
During these extraordinary times, federal and state governments loosened some of the licensing, credentialing, and point-of-care restrictions and requirements that maintain high standards of care. Some of these “relaxed” requirements include: waiving licensing requirements, use of retired healthcare providers, use of volunteer healthcare providers, area of practice restrictions, medical students deployed before graduation, “sharing” ventilators, repurposing beds and units not intended for ICU care, etc. The main goal for health services providers in many areas is now expanding capacity for care to handle potentially overwhelming caseloads or to prepare to handle potentially overwhelming workloads on the horizon.
Liability Issues Related to Relaxed Standards in Healthcare During Covid-19 Pandemic:
While many healthcare providers and workers are being hailed as heroes, they are also left vulnerable to liability issues. While federal and state governments have the power to limit the liability exposure of medical providers, grants of immunity have been inconsistent. The federal government provides critical limited immunities to frontline healthcare providers. Some were put in place specifically to combat the potential liability resulting from patient care during the COVID-19 crisis. However, other limits and immunities exist in long-standing statutes and regulations that apply to the present situation.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act potentially limits or immunizes health care providers from liability during the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically volunteer healthcare providers.
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act Declaration empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide that a “covered person” (including a qualified individual who prescribes, administers, or dispenses pandemic countermeasures) is immune from suit and liability during a disease-related public health emergency.
State-specific provisions, executive orders, and laws may also provide additional protection against liability in certain situations.
While the healthcare providers working to help those affected by the coronavirus are provided with a handful of immunities to protect them against future liability claims, they are not granted “absolute” immunity.
If you were negatively affected by exposure to the coronavirus and you need to file a claim, don’t hesitate to call the experienced Texas personal injury lawyers at Carrollton’s Hudson Law Firm. We put Personal back into Personal Injury Law.