U.S. Doctors Concerned With Malpractice Suits During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Medical professionals across the U.S. are seeking protection from medical malpractice lawsuits during the coronavirus outbreak. As they continue to work in unprecedented circumstances, emergency room doctors and nurses are concerned about liability for a number of reasons. Healthcare professionals may find themselves performing unfamiliar tasks outside their speciality, experiencing equipment shortages, or having to ration care.
Protection against unreasonable claims
Several groups representing healthcare providers, including the American Medical Association, are appealing to governors for increased legal cover. “ There are too many variables here. We are going to be second-guessed,” states Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “We need better protection, if only to guard against unreasonable claims.” Doctors are particularly concerned about being unable to give as thorough care as they usually would to non-COVID-19 patients. Hospital beds are being reserved for coronavirus patients, so other patients can’t be kept in for overnight testing and observation.
New Jersey, Michigan and New York governors have issued orders to increase the standard for injuries or deaths from negligent or grossly negligent care while meeting the state’s guidelines for dealing with COVID-19. Legislation was also recently passed in Nebraska to protect U.S. doctors who provide treatment outside regular healthcare facilities, deliver treatment outside their area of speciality, or use modified medical devices. It’s hoped these actions will be taken in other states.
The importance of medical malpractice lawsuits
While medical professionals are working hard during the coronavirus pandemic, medical mistakes that harm patients can happen. As such, medical malpractice lawsuits are important for several reasons, JJS explains. They not only hold medical providers responsible for their actions, but they also help protect future patients by improving safety protocols and laws. Additionally, medical malpractice lawsuits provide injured parties with justice and financial compensation for lost income, medical expenses, and emotional pain and suffering.
Moreover, lawyers representing patients are concerned that the coronavirus pandemic may be used to implement changes that work to prohibit unrelated lawsuits. “The question I would ask is, why aren’t the ordinary liability rules already sufficient to address the issues?” states Chip Becker of the Kline & Specter law firm in Philadelphia. Becker says medical professionals are already legally protected, and doctors working during the pandemic won’t be held to the standard of care expected in a private office. The law must offer balanced protection to both doctors and patients.