April 15, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unknown environment to many, especially health care workers. As a result, questions arose about legal liability risks for physicians and other health care professionals tasked with providing patient care during these uncertain times with limited resources and space inside facilities.
As the pandemic still looms over us, it’s important to know the immunity laws for health care professionals, what states have these immunity laws — and if the laws are still in effect.
What is immunity law for health care workers?
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act was invoked to help provide broad immunity to health care workers and its protections were later supplemented by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These statutes don’t protect from gross negligence, criminal misconduct or providing care while intoxicated, but do help caregivers perform specific measures to help patients through emergencies that were brought on by the pandemic.
What states have an immunity law for health care workers?
Near the beginning of the pandemic, all 50 states issued an emergency declaration, but there was variation in whether states implemented a policy or only called for one. Thirty-four states offered some sort of civil liability protections for physicians. All applicable laws that provide civil immunity for providing medical care during an emergency do so conditionally. If a physician performs care that includes intentional misconduct or gross negligence, the physician would still be subject to civil liability.
Are these laws still occurring?
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) allows the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue a declaration that extends liability protections to entities and individuals who work in the health care field. Liability protections have been extended through Oct. 1, 2024.
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