Executive & Regulatory Help, But Not Complete Immunity, For Health Care Workers Treating COVID-19
April 10, 2020 – On April 9, 2020, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order granting “immunity” from liability for front-line licensed health care workers and volunteers “providing medical services in support of the State’s public health emergency for COVID-19.” Still, the immunity only extends to acts and omissions occurring between March 11, 2020 to at least June 30, 2020, unless the Governor extends the order. Further, the immunity does not extend to gross negligence or reckless or willful misconduct.
From the federal perspective, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has recently declared that it will waive enforcement of various federal regulations for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has also created immunities under the PREP Act for certain losses arising out of the use and administration of specific COVID-19 countermeasure drugs and devices. However, neither of these create blanket immunity from ordinary civil liability.
While the Governor’s action is needed relief for our health care workers, it may not reduce the claims filed in court. Whether an act or omission reaches the level of gross negligence or willful misconduct often will be a fact question for a judge or jury. Because of this, adequate staffing, sound clinical practices, and diligent documentation remain – as they always are – crucial aspects of quality care.
For more information, or if you have questions, please contact one of Gust Rosenfeld’s Health Care attorneys:
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