As More And More People Are Harmed by The Coronavirus Here in Rhode Island, Some Healthcare Workers Seek Immunity from Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for A Reason
The coronavirus has affected what feels like every area of our lives; from our ability to go to work and feel safe there, to spending time with loved ones, to even spending time outside, doing the things we love to do.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is also overwhelming our nation’s hospitals to the point where there are serious concerns about medical malpractice. There have been stories about hospitals creating their own do-not-resuscitate rules even if they conflict with a patient’s wishes because they feel so overwhelmed, as well as healthcare workers here in Rhode Island being ordered to wear facemasks while tending to patients because nursing homes have been especially hard hit. As a result, more and more doctors are now seeking immunity from liability out of concern that they will be subject to medical malpractice lawsuits as a result of treating patients suffering from the coronavirus, but is this what’s best for our patients?
Conditions Are Dire in Many Areas
Some hospitals inundated with coronavirus cases have left these workers treating patients without even wearing protective gear, or sometimes even practicing in specialties that they are not licensed or qualified to. Here in Rhode Island, for example, two out of eight of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths occurred at the Golden Crest Nursing Center in North Providence and Oak Hill Health and Rehabilitation in Pawtucket, leaving the state with no choice but to mandate.that all hospitals, healthcare facilities, and nursing homes ensure that employees wear face masks when they are in direct contact with patients. The state is also allowing nursing students who have only completed one semester of classes to receive a 90-day certified nursing assistant license to help in both nursing homes and hospitals, which arguably introduces a number of safety concerns for patients.
Protection for Healthcare Workers from Liability in Some Circumstances
While legislators in Rhode Island have not yet passed any laws or issued any executive orders shielding healthcare workers or hospitals from malpractice lawsuits (as Michigan, New Jersey, and New York have done), healthcare workers and their attorneys are still pressing for these protections, arguing that they are necessary, given the challenges they are facing in terms of the lack of protective equipment and number of patients. In addition, healthcare workers also already have some protections at the federal level, including:
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which put measures in place protecting volunteer health care workers from liability on the federal level
- The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997, which protects volunteer health care workers assisting government and nonprofit agencies
- The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which allows the government to issue a declaration providing broad immunity for healthcare workers who use “countermeasures,” such as medications, although these measures exclude willful misconduct and gross negligence
If You’ve Been Harmed by Medical Malpractice in Rhode Island, Contact A Providence Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The standard of care has also changed, down to the sterilization methods, and even though workers in Rhode Island have to wear masks when they interact with patients, they cannot necessarily properly change personal protective equipment because it is in such high demand and low supply.
If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice here in Rhode Island, contact Providence medical malpractice lawyer Michael Kiselica for the very best in legal assistance.