World Health Day was last week, on April 7, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate time to recognize the work and sacrifices of the healthcare profession across the globe.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen these men and women run toward danger, working around the clock and putting their own lives on the line to help those affected by COVID-19.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has created a task force to help ensure these professionals have the personal protection equipment they need and that their hospitals have the resources necessary to respond to a surge in coronavirus patients. The governor has also issued orders easing licensing requirements for healthcare workers to ensure Texas has the medical workforce it needs in the coming weeks.
But there’s an additional layer of protection that we should grant to the men and women on the frontlines of this pandemic: liability protection.
TLR recently joined with the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association and others to request that Gov. Abbott issue an executive order providing liability protection during the declared disaster for physicians and other healthcare providers.
“These healthcare professionals are literally risking their lives to care for Texans suffering from a lethal virus. At the same time, plaintiff attorneys are already advertising for clients to file lawsuits related to the healthcare industry’s response to the virus. The citizens of Texas cannot reasonably expect healthcare professionals to work under the threat of both death and litigation. Under these circumstances, it would be entirely reasonable for healthcare workers to ignore—rather than answer—the call to service, leaving Texans without necessary care during a time of crisis.”
With these extraordinary circumstances, and with all that we are asking of our medical professionals, it is critical we assure these individuals they will not face a lawsuit unless their conduct was reckless or they engaged in intentional, wanton or willful misconduct.
Additionally, given the fluidness of this situation, we also believe COVID-19-related healthcare lawsuits should be postponed until after the crisis to allow the industry to continue providing the critical care Texans need right now.
Healthcare professionals are going above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow Texans in the face of this pandemic. It is the least we can do to protect them from the added stress of an unnecessary lawsuit at this time.