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April 03, 2020

Health Law Daily

Providers Who Make Life-Or-Death Decisions During Coronavirus Pandemic May Face Lawsuits

  • April 03, 2020

Bloomberg (4/2, Larson) reports that physicians “and hospitals overwhelmed in the pandemic will have to make their excruciating life-or-death decisions meticulously or they risk being second-guessed by a jury when the onslaught is over.” Some “lawyers who defend health care providers are already giving advice on how their clients can avoid liability if they’re forced to choose between patients.” According to the article, “how they prepare for this battlefield triage now – and how they practice it in the chaos of peak infections – will determine whether negligence cases against them are dismissed or lead to trials or settlements over the death of a parent or spouse.”
      The New York Post (4/2, Barone) reports “health experts have reportedly advised healthcare providers to develop their own policies for critical ventilator use, creating varying protocols depending on the state or even hospital.” A lack of ventilators may “potentially raise negligence charges, though experts said that would be a difficult argument to make during a pandemic.”
      Meanwhile, Reuters (4/2, Hals) reports that “medical professionals on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic are lobbying policymakers for protection from potential malpractice lawsuits as hospitals triage care and physicians take on roles outside their specialties.” State chapters of the “American Medical Association and other groups representing healthcare providers have been pressing governors for legal cover for decisions made in crisis-stricken emergency rooms,” while “governors in New York, New Jersey and Michigan have responded with orders that raised the standard for injuries or deaths while working in support of the state’s response to COVID-19 from negligence to gross negligence, or an egregious deviation from standard care.” Physicians “hope other states will follow.”