New York Introduces Bill to Shield Doctors/Hospitals from Coronavirus Lawsuits
New York is the state with the highest medical malpractice verdicts and settlements of any other state in the country. Here in Florida, we are much more aggressive in terms of protecting doctors from medical malpractice lawsuits. However, New York is introducing a bill that gives doctors and hospitals broadscale immunity from both criminal and civil penalties during the quarantine.
New York City has become the epicenter of the virus with more cases per capita than anywhere else in the country. Doctors and medical staff are working overtime and medical supplies, including those required to prevent the contagion from spreading to medical staff from patients, are in short supply.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been asking the federal government to supply respirators to the area and has issued an executive order to expropriate medical supplies from counties and areas that have been less hard-hit than New York City.
Chances are, we will see a similar directive here in Florida as the number of cases continues to grow.
Is This Law Legal?
Yes. Consider for example that emergency room staff are held to a lower standard than primary care physicians, specialists, and others. Here in Florida, emergency room doctors are largely immune to medical malpractice lawsuits, although, there are exceptions to this.
The burden of proof is higher on the plaintiff when it involves an emergency room doctor, but that doesn’t mean that cases are impossible to file. It just means you’re limited in the types of claims you can make against the doctor. The vast majority of all emergency room lawsuits are therefore diagnostic errors.
It is more likely than not that a similar law or executive order will be issued here in Florida, but we can’t yet be certain of the exact text of that law.
For instance, will immunity from medical malpractice claims be only limited to coronavirus cases? Or will the law include any type of medical malpractice claim because the hospitals are expected to be overrun?
One potential claim against a hospital for malpractice is an understaffing claim. Essentially, an injured patient or their family files a lawsuit against the hospital claiming that a lack of staff members contributed to a medical injury or the worsening of symptoms, even death.
It is very likely that these types of claims will be dismissed if the Florida legislature passes similar legislation.
It should, however, be understood that the State of New York is much more permissive of medical malpractice cases than Florida has traditionally been. Furthermore, New York is much more aggressive when pursuing bad doctors, punishing doctors, or preventing doctors from other states from practicing medicine in New York. Florida, on the other hand, has a much more hands-off approach, wants to protect doctors from lawsuits, and limits a plaintiff’s ability to bring a suit against a doctor.
So you can expect immunity legislation to be forthcoming.
Talk to a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by the negligent practice of medicine, call the St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith to schedule your free initial consultation.