Medical Malpractice and COVID-19
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the country have been overwhelmed in their attempt to treat so many patients while trying to stop the spread. Most of these healthcare facilities, and the medical staff within them, deserve to be applauded for the excellent care they provide every day. Unfortunately, some may display negligence if they do not prevent hospital-acquired infections, or fail to get certain patients into the ICU or on a ventilator in a reasonable amount of time.
For individuals that have become even sicker, or that contracted COVID-19 while in the hospital, it is natural to wonder if you have a medical malpractice claim. In the case of coronavirus, filing those claims is not going to be easy. A Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer can help.
The CARES Act
As the pandemic was beginning to rapidly spread across the country at the end of March, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The CARES Act comprises many measures, including immunity from liability for any volunteer working in a healthcare facility during the pandemic. Under this Act, patients that became injured as a result of an act or omission in the provision of healthcare services cannot hold volunteers responsible.
While this may seem as though no patient can hold a volunteer liable, that is not the case. The Act also provides that when a volunteer showed gross negligence or a wanton disregard for patients’ safety, such as working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can still be held liable for negligent acts that led to a patient becoming harmed.
The PREP Act
Although the CARES Act only applies to volunteers, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act gives all healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 certain protections. The PREP Act states that any eligible person administering, prescribing, or dispensing ‘pandemic countermeasures’ cannot be held liable under federal or state law. The Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide a Declaration in writing that allows for this immunity for healthcare workers. The Secretary provided this Declaration in the first week of February.
While the PREP Act allows for broader immunity, it too, does not allow immunity for healthcare workers that are grossly negligent or that show complete disregard for a patient’s safety.
Our Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyers can Help with Your Case
If you or a loved one suffered harm in a hospital or other healthcare facility as a result of COVID-19 and you now wish to file a claim against them, the road ahead is a difficult one. At van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers can help. Our attorneys are well-versed in the federal and state laws that govern medical malpractice, and the experience needed to help you recover the fair compensation you need. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.