With states slowly reopening, citizens hope to have some form of normalcy return to their lives soon. However, with the effects of the coronavirus continuing to be felt in each state, healthcare and insurance industries have been lobbying to their state’s respective legislatures to enact civil immunity for doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes. As Miami Medical Malpractice lawyers we are never surprised at the lengths which insurance companies will go to push their agenda and place profits over people. By enacting such legislation, individuals injured as a result of a providers’ medical negligence would lose their right to sue.
States like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have already enacted such legislation, but Florida has yet to come to a decision. It is undeniable that the front-line health care workers have been heroes for their work and efforts to help combat the deadly coronavirus. These workers deserve all the praise, respect, and recognition that is due. However, for-profit nursing homes and healthcare systems should not be allowed to use this well-deserved praise as a means to push their own agenda in the form of “blanket immunity.”
In order to succeed on a suit filed for medical negligence a plaintiff must prove that the health care provider’s treatment fell below the standard of care. In most medical cases, there is typically an established standard of care which can be testified to by other medical experts. However, with coronavirus, there really is a significant amount of uncertainty that surrounds treatment procedures resulting in no established standard of care. As a result, legislation providing immunity for healthcare providers with respect to coronavirus treatment is essentially moot as any case brought forward will be unable to proceed as the issue in controversy (the standard of care) is uncertain. However, to provide for blanket immunity for any and all treatment by healthcare providers would be a bridge too far.
Enacting legislation that provides for such blanket immunity means if a doctor operates on the wrong side of your body—a clear negligent act—the patient loses the right to sue unless the act rises to the level of gross negligence or recklessness on the part of the healthcare provider. Meeting this burden is nearly impossible and would effectively deprive individuals of their right to a recovery.
Again, it is essential to understand and appreciate just how instrumental health care workers around the country have been throughout these challenging times. Healthcare immunity, with respect to treatment of coronavirus cases, are understandable given the circumstances. However, it would be reckless to allow this line of reasoning to extend to all negligent medical acts that are taking place during this crisis.