Home Health & Fitness New Medical Malpractice Cases Arise due to Pandemic

New Medical Malpractice Cases Arise due to Pandemic

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The Coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented changes in the field of medicine. Many

hospitals could face an influx of COVID-19 patients which may require intensive or immediate

medical treatment. Additionally, many hospitals and doctors may need to implement new

procedures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their treatment centers. The

response to these challenges has resulted in new medical malpractice lawsuits related to

COVID-19. Several recent medical malpractice lawsuits pertain to improper treatment of

Coronavirus cases or an individual developing COVID-19 as a result of negligent or reckless

action.

 

What Types of Malpractice Claims Could Arise During COVID-19?

There are several actions that could qualify a medical malpractice claim during the COVID-19

pandemic. These actions can be taken by either a medical care provider, organization, or

hospital. In some cases, an individual may be able to file a claim against more than one party.

 

“While this is an incredibly stressful time for doctors and other healthcare providers, the

standard of care should not be compromised,” said Attorney Sean Domnick of Domnick

Cunningham & Whalen. “An injured person should not have to bear the cost of damages

resulting from the negligence or reckless action of a medical professional.”

 

Lawsuits could arise during COVID-19 that relate to a hospital or medical care provider’s

inability to treat Coronavirus cases in a safe and timely manner. Additionally, some lawsuits may

allege that an individual became exposed to and developed COVID-19 as a result of negligent

or reckless safety or sanitation practices.

 

Medical Malpractice Claims and COVID-19 Treatment

Some medical malpractice claims may result from the way hospitals, doctors, and other medical

practitioners treat individuals with COVID-19. This includes medical malpractice claims

regarding a person being injured as a result of a hospitals inability or failure to adequately treat

 

COVID-19 within an appropriate timeframe. Cases such as these may allege that a doctor

should have been able to treat a COVID-19 patient within a certain timeframe, but did not due to

negligence, reckless action, or an unreasonable lack of preparation.

 

Similarly, medical malpractice claims could arise alleging that while a doctor was able to

diagnose COVID-19, they did not provide treatment that would adhere to the standard of care.

This could include cases where a doctor does not admit a COVID-19 patient to a hospital under

the impression that they are healthy enough to self-quarantine at home and the patient then

subsequently dies due to the Coronavirus.

 

Medical Malpractice Claims and COVID-19 Exposure

Additionally, individuals may have a medical malpractice case if they suspect that they became

exposed to and developed COVID-19 due to a hospital or practitioner’s negligent or reckless

action. Claims regarding the failure to appropriately hinder the exposure to COVID-19 may arise

whenever a hospital is unable to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospital staff.

 

Laws Regarding Medical Malpractice During COVID-19

There are several laws which may provide medical practitioners liability protections during the

COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), which

was signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes some liability protections for volunteer health

service providers during the COVID-19 emergency response period. This law could protect

volunteer physicians and other service providers from claims related to the prevention,

treatment, and diagnosis of COVID-19 in some cases.

 

Similarly, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (VPA) could provide additional liability

protections for individuals voluntarily performing services for government or non-profit

organizations. Under VPA guidelines, a volunteer must be licensed or authorized to provide

treatment in the state where the service is performed in order to qualify for liability protection.

Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) of 2005 could also provide

protection from medical malpractice claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PREP Act

could provide immunity protections from liability claims in limited scenarios whenever a

declaration is issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

 

Medical Malpractice Claim Decreases During COVID-19

While many new medical malpractice claims may arise related to the treatment of COVID-19,

some types of claims may decrease during the pandemic. This includes claims related to certain

non-essential medical services that were closed as a result of the state of emergency declarations

or shelter-in-place orders. Many state governors closed non-essential businesses while stay-at-

home orders were in effect. While what qualified as an essential business varied between

states, some medical practitioners were affected, including dental offices, cosmetic surgery

providers, and elective operation services.

 

Disclosure of Risk During COVID-19

In response to the increased potential health risks and demands during COVID-19, some

doctors and hospitals across the United States are implementing additional protocols that may

proactively protect them from medical malpractice lawsuits. This includes updated disclosures of

risk and informed consent procedures that acknowledge the potential risk of contracting COVID-

19 despite doctors and hospitals employing best health practices.

 

However, an individual does not automatically relinquish their ability to file a medical malpractice

claim just because they were informed or signed a document acknowledging the risks of a

treatment or procedure. In some cases, a person may still have a medical malpractice case

whenever a health provider acted unreasonably or outside the standard of care.

 

Telehealth Practices During COVID-19

To proactively prevent the spread of COVID-19, many medical practitioners are implementing

telehealth treatment, the online or electronic delivery of health services. While telemedical

services may help deliver health services without direct interaction, many states have

established regulations regarding how and when online health services can be provided.

While some telehealth regulations have been adapted to give more doctors and practitioners

more liberties while providing services during the pandemic, an individual may still file a medical

malpractice claims whenever a health professional provides inadequate care. This could include

medical malpractice claims related to a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis while providing

telehealth services.

 

COVID-19 Medical Malpractice Claims

Overall, the success of a medical malpractice claim related to Coronavirus could depend on

several factors. In many cases, an insurance company or similar organization may offer a

settlement amount based on their evaluation of the overall case. If a case goes to trial, a

medical malpractice claim may ultimately depend on the jury’s perception of if a health

practitioner or service provider acted within the reasonable scope of care.

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