For nearly two years, experts have warned that failing socially distance, wear masks, and follow other safety protocols, increased the risk of contracting COVID. If this happened too often, our hospitals could be overrun by COVID patients who would take beds away from those who had other acute disorders like heart attacks or strokes. Now that the vaccines have proven to effectively reduce the rate of transmission of COVID, and the number of hospitalized COVID patients has declined, there is some optimism that the pandemic could soon be coming to an end. However, many patients who put off medical services while COVID patients were claiming beds are now flooding ERs.
In other words, even though COVID numbers continue to decline, the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on the healthcare system persists.
A new issue causing the same problem
It is not uncommon now to see stretchers lining the walls of emergency rooms where patients lie waiting for a room to open. The troubling thing is that many of these individuals do not have COVID-19. They simply waited to have important procedures performed, often until it was too late. That has created an influx of patients for emergency rooms and they are still struggling to handle the volume. Prior to the pandemic, most of these emergency rooms had plenty of space to take on new patients.
In the early days of the pandemic, it was not uncommon to see emergency rooms vacant as everyone stayed home unless they had to. However, COVID cases began to spike and some hospitals found themselves unable to manage the volume. Others are just now feeling the pinch of all those patients who waited a year to manage their other non-COVID issues.
Standard of care issues and medical malpractice liability
While the text of the COVID liability protections differ from one state to the next, hospitals can still claim they are under the effects of the pandemic which would broadly alleviate them from liability. Hospitals can claim that COVID-related pressures are preventing them from rendering the appropriate medical care and treatment and that their liability should thus be limited under the COVID immunity laws of their state.
In other words, while it may still be possible to file a lawsuit against a hospital in Florida if their ER is overrun with patients, the hospital can always raise a COVID pressure defense to explain why the prevailing standard of care was not rendered. It would then be up to the court to interpret the law and decide whether or not these lawsuits could move forward.
Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured at a hospital or by the negligence of a medical doctor, call the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.