Lobbyists Push to Give Immunity to Health Care During Pandemic
Three of the states that were hardest-hit by the coronavirus, New York, Michigan, and New Jersey, have all passed temporary legislation that seeks to prevent medical malpractice lawsuits against health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19. In all three states, such legislation has passed with bipartisan support and will remain until the pandemic and state of emergency are in effect.
Now, lobbyists in Texas want to use the pandemic as an excuse to bar medical malpractice lawsuits against Texas hospitals and health care agencies despite the fact that the State of Texas has not seen outbreaks near as bad as New York.
In fact, Texas became the first state to announce that they were reopening. This throws a wrench into the health care lobby attempting to plead for special consideration during this time.
What Would a Med Mal Moratorium Look Like?
If we use New York as a basis for the type of legislation we would see here in Texas, then hospitals and doctors on the front line of the pandemic would be given immunity from medical malpractice lawsuits. This includes any health care facility that is impacted by the pandemic.
To get a sense of what this legislation could mean, New York has been borrowing beds from nursing homes to store COVID-19 patients who no longer fit into area hospitals. Nursing homes, as you may know, have suffered the worst losses of all as they are protecting a population in the highest-risk group. Since these nursing homes have taken on patients from hospital overflow, they would be immune to deaths within their own walls during the pandemic. This means that there is very little force being exerted on these homes in terms of keeping their facilities clean and sanitary and giving their residents the highest possible quality of care.
The New York med mal moratorium doesn’t prevent all lawsuits against health care facilities. New Yorkers can still sue their doctors in the event of a surgical procedure unrelated to COVID-19 or if the medical negligence is considered “gross negligence” as opposed to simple negligence. That means that if your doctor shows up to surgery drunk, you can still file a medical malpractice lawsuit against them.
What Do Legislators Hope to Achieve?
There is always going to be a push to reduce the volume and size of medical malpractice lawsuits and settlements. This is an ever-present reality in our political climate. The pandemic has given these individuals a good reason to pull the trigger on such legislation, but it probably won’t last beyond the pandemic. New York, for instance, was concerned that hospitals would be sued for triaging patients in various states of health and allowing those circling the drain to simply die to free up resources for other patients more likely to pull through.
Talk to a Houston Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by a negligent medical doctor, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today to schedule a free consultation.