COVID Claims Spike as Second Wave Rages On
The founder and CEO of a company called JustPoint that links injured patients to medical malpractice lawyers recently published a survey that indicates that 5% of all medical malpractice claims are now related to COVID. However, a number of states have provided hospitals with immunity to COVID-related lawsuits or lawsuits that arise because of shortages created by COVID. These states tend to be in the Northeast where COVID struck hardest in the early days of the pandemic. Additionally, efforts are being made in congress to pass legislation that would further protect businesses from COVID-related lawsuits.
In this article, we’ll discuss the types of COVID lawsuits that are being filed, and how they might play out given different scenarios.
Overwhelming the Hospitals
In the early days of the pandemic, there was widespread fear that if too many people contracted the disease too quickly, then hospitals would be overrun with requests for ventilators, like they were in Italy. Hospitals in hot spots found themselves low on staff, supplies, and running out of rooms. Overflow patients were placed in nursing homes, where they spread the disease to the most vulnerable population: the elderly. Had it not been for legislative immunity authorized by the governors of these states, these hospitals could have easily faced a number of medical malpractice lawsuits simply for not having the supplies and staffing they needed to treat patients.
Meanwhile, hospital employees that were exposed to the virus were also getting sick, thereby creating staff shortages. The staff who were still on the job were stretched way too thin.
While some of the claims are related to medical malpractice, a growing number of complaints allege that hospitals do not have the authority to prevent visitors to patients. Family members who were frantic to explain their loved ones’ allergies and complications felt as though they weren’t being listened to by hospital staff.
COVID and Medical Malpractice Risks
COVID is an especially-infectious disease that can spread through microscopic water droplets in the air known as aerosols. These aerosols can stay in the air for hours after they’ve been expelled. Hospitals dealing with a major influx of COVID patients run the risk of spreading the disease on-premises which could impact already-vulnerable populations with weakened immune systems who are recovering from surgery. For that reason, many surgeries that were considered elective or not urgent were postponed during the COVID outbreak. Since these surgeries aren’t occurring, the percentage of lawsuits related to these surgeries has been reduced.
Lastly, it’s not entirely clear what a hospital can do if it has been overrun by patients. In some cases, especially in Italy, hospitals began triaging patients or selecting those most likely to survive to render treatment. It’s those types of decisions that legislatures are hoping to protect hospitals from.
Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to a negligent medical doctor, call the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the matter in greater detail. We can help.