What Does This Bill Do?
House Bill 606 will make temporary changes related to qualified civil immunity for health care providers during the current global pandemic.
Who Receives Immunity?
Health care providers providing health care services, emergency medical services, first-aid treatment, or other emergency professional care as a result of or in response to the global pandemic.
How Are They Protected?
This bill protects health care providers by expanding circumstances in which
- They are not subject to professional disciplinary action AND
- They are not liable in damages to any person or government agency in a tort action for injury, death, or loss to person or property.
When Are They Not Liable?
If the injury, death, or loss of person or property allegedly arises from any of the following:
- An act or omission of the health care provider, withholding, or withdrawal of those services
- Any decision related to such an act or omission, withholding, or withdrawal of those services
- Compliance with an executive order issued during and in response to the global pandemic.
When Are They Liable For Tort Action?
Health care providers are liable for tort action if the act, omission, decision, or compliance constitutes
- A reckless disregard for the consequences so as to affect the life or health of the patient;
- Intentional misconduct; or
- Willful or wanton misconduct.
What Is Reckless Disregard?
With heedless indifference to the consequences, the health care
provider disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their
conduct is likely to cause at the time those services were rendered.
When Are They Liable For Professional Disciplinary Action?
Health care providers are liable for professional disciplinary action if act, omission, decision, or compliance constitutes gross negligence.
What Is Gross Negligence?
A lack of care so great that it appears to be a conscious
indifference to the rights of others.
When Are They Liable for Both Tort Action and Professional Disciplinary Action?
Health care providers are liable for tort action and professional disciplinary action for actions that are outside the skills, education, and training of the health care provider
The action was undertaken in good faith and in response to a lack of resources caused by the disaster or emergency.
When Does This Bill Apply?
House Bill 606 is retroactive and applies from the Governor’s Executive Order on March 9, 2020, through December 31, 2020. It is possible that this time could be extended further.
What Is The Bill’s Current Status?
This bill has been passed in both the House and the Senate. The bill has not yet been presented to or signed by the governor.
How Do These Changes Affect You?
If House Bill 606 is passed, it will change the way civil litigation can be brought against health care providers because it will increase the burden for a Plaintiff to establish the elements of medical malpractice.
Ultimately, this is the first big step approaching potential tort liability in response to the global pandemic. Setting this standard may lead to further protections for business owners during this state of emergency as well.
So…What Do You Do?
If you believe you have a valid claim for negligence and/or malpractice against a healthcare provider, please consult an experienced attorney on the matter as soon as possible so you can obtain proper relief.