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Congress to Tackle Medical Liability During Pandemic


The next coronavirus relief bill is likely to come with some strings attached. Already, lawmakers are hoping to insulate hospitals from malpractice liability during the pandemic. Some of the proposed legislation would also restrict employees from filing lawsuits against employers if they become sick with COVID-19 while on the job.

Hospitals are saying that the pandemic has made them wary about performing elective procedures. Apparently, they believe that there is a higher chance of something going wrong than there otherwise would be. Why? That’s hard to say.

One of the few industries that should be thriving right now—health care—is actually suffering mightily. These so-called elective procedures bring in a substantial percentage of a hospital’s revenue. So it’s highly unlikely that they’re “afraid” to reopen that wing of the hospital while the pandemic is going on. That being said, very difficult decisions are being made by medical staff right now, such as the triaging of patients, that could theoretically form the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

No One Wants to be Responsible 

The situation in New York City is much worse than anywhere else in the country. Because there were so many COVID patients flooding into NYC hospitals, individuals had to be moved from the hospital into nursing homes, an order that was rescinded only two days before the writing of this blog post.

New York was the first state to pass broadscale protections for doctors and hospitals dealing with COVID patients. First, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order placing a moratorium on medical malpractice lawsuits and later the legislature ratified this and codified it into law. The law will likely remain on the books until the state of emergency has been officially ended.

In the meantime, elective surgeries and other medical services have been suspended while the state deals with the outbreak. But many health care providers are losing millions of dollars a day because they don’t have that revenue coming in. In other words, despite what the hospital lobby claims, they do want to begin performing elective surgeries again, they just don’t want to be held responsible if something goes wrong. Why should now be any different than before? They say the pandemic increases the risk of a negative outcome.

If the pandemic is increasing the risk of negative medical outcomes, mistakes, or surgical errors, then it makes sense simply not to perform the surgeries as opposed to performing the surgeries and not being responsible for the outcome.

Of course, lobbyists for the hospital want it both ways. They want to say, “hey, we’re losing money because we can’t perform elective surgeries, but we’re afraid to perform elective surgeries, please help us, government” while seemingly admitting that these surgeries are more dangerous to perform while there’s a pandemic on.

Would you want to have a surgery done if you knew that there was no way to hold your doctor accountable if they fail?

Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney 

If you’ve been injured by a negligent medical doctor, hospital, hospital staff, nursing home, nursing home staff, call the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez right away to schedule a free consultation. We can help.


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