We’ve reported extensively about states that have offered immunity to doctors and hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic. These states have passed legislation that forces plaintiffs to prove gross negligence as opposed to simple medical negligence. New York, Michigan, and New Jersey were among the first states to pass such legislation.
However, it is at present unclear what sorts of coronavirus cases would qualify as gross negligence. Perhaps the best example we have comes from Israel.
Coronavirus and Medical Malpractice
The quarantine was placed into effect over fears that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals would be overrun with critical care patients. The legislation was meant to protect hospitals that had to operate on triage from civil liability. Italy, of course, famously refused to place patients over the age of 80 on respirators. Meanwhile, several died in Israel due to under-skilled nursing staff failing to operate respirators correctly.
In one case, doctors reported that a patient on a respirator was fed incorrectly. That patient ended up choking to death. The patient’s official cause of death was listed as the coronavirus.
Gross Negligence and Medical Malpractice
In terms of medical negligence, you typically have a situation that cannot be easily understood by jurors. For this reason, medical malpractice cases require expert testimony from doctors. In a gross negligence case, the malpractice is typically so extreme that it is obvious to an average juror.
That being said, the standard in Florida for gross negligence is behavior that is so reckless or wanton that it constitutes a disregard for the safety and health of the patient. This standard also applies to medical malpractice cases. However, it usually refers to conduct that is intentional.
For instance, if a doctor shows up to surgery drunk, that would be gross negligence. If a doctor intentionally misdiagnoses a patient for the purpose of overbilling their insurance company, that is gross negligence. In other words, the standard for gross negligence in a medical malpractice case is quite high. This is, essentially, the same standard that was imposed upon Plaintiffs bringing coronavirus cases in New York State after immunity legislation went into effect.
Thus far, the State of Florida has not passed any such legislation shielding doctors from coronavirus lawsuits. This could, however, change as Florida experiences a surge in cases. More and more ICUs are being filled with coronavirus patients causing hospital staff to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. This could force hospitals to begin triaging patients which may lead to coronavirus immunity legislation.
Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve been injured or experienced worsening symptoms from a medical procedure, call the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez today and schedule a free case evaluation.