Has the Risk of Malpractice Gone Up With COVID-19?

Healthcare workers will likely not face increased risk of malpractice claims due to COVID-19, but there are times they can be found liable.

Since the start of the pandemic, healthcare workers have been the front-line heroes keeping the people of Murrieta as safe as possible. While all Californians are extremely grateful to them, some medical professionals may still make mistakes as they are treating patients for the virus or treating non-COVID patients alongside those that have contracted the virus. The question many are now asking is whether these healthcare workers will face more cases of medical malpractice during the pandemic. While it is unlikely, medical professionals can still be liable in certain circumstances.

Legislation that Protects Healthcare Workers

There is plenty of legislation that provides protection to healthcare workers, during and after the pandemic. The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) does not provide broad protections from civil liability, but it does provide protection for medical professionals for the use of drugs and medical devices when caring for COVID-19 patients.

California law also states that healthcare workers cannot be held liable, unless they willingly acted or failed to act, for any services they render during a state of emergency. The state’s Good Samaritan law also states that healthcare professionals cannot be held liable for departing from the standard of care when there is a state of emergency. Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in March and so, that legislation could provide some protection to medical professionals.

When Medical Professionals Can be Held Liable

While healthcare professionals have many protections under the law, there are still times when they can be held liable for negligent care. To determine whether medical malpractice occurred at any time, the actions of the healthcare worker must be examined. If they fall outside of the standard of care, the medical professional can be held liable. During the pandemic, this may hold true if California was not in a state of emergency at the time the negligent care was provided.

Healthcare professionals can also be held liable if they did not provide patients with a safe environment. Although it may be difficult to completely prevent the spread of the coronavirus, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and medical centers must take all necessary steps to keep patients safe. When they do not monitor staff and patients for symptoms, do not have proper PPE, or do not follow other public health guidelines, they can be held liable.

Another instance in which medical professionals can be held liable for medical malpractice is when they do not provide full disclosure to their patients. For example, medical centers should post signage stating there is a small risk of being exposed to the virus or including this information in their informed consent paperwork.

Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Murrieta Can Help with Your Case

Medical malpractice cases are always complex, but those that arise during the COVID-19 pandemic will be even more complicated. If you have been harmed due to medical negligence, our Murrieta medical malpractice lawyers at Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP, can help. Call us today at 951-816-3435 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation so we can review your case.