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In February 2020, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). This declaration is pursuant to Section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act. It protects medical professionals from civil liability related to COVID-19 treatment. In emergency situations, medical professionals must do their jobs quickly and efficiently. Worrying about medical malpractice lawsuits can prevent this. This declaration enables them to treat thousands of sick coronavirus patients without fear or hesitation. But what happens if you suffer serious medical harm during this time? Can you file a coronavirus medical malpractice lawsuit?
In the U.S., we have the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). This gives the HHS Secretary the power to issue declarations. These declarations provide liability immunity to certain individuals and entities. In the case of the coronavirus, medical professionals gained this protection.
The declaration protects medical professionals from medical malpractice lawsuits related to coronavirus treatment. This includes medical countermeasures related to:
It does not prevent patients from filing medical malpractice lawsuits for other reasons during this time.
For example, consider a nurse who administers the wrong medication to a patient. This mistake causes the patient significant harm. Under normal circumstances, an injured patient could file a medical malpractice claim. During the coronavirus pandemic, litigation is different. Suppose the medication was to treat pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. Due to liability immunity, the patient could not file a medical malpractice claim against the nurse.
However, if willful misconduct on behalf of a medical professional or entity caused serious medical harm, the patient may have a valid case.
There are some exceptions to the PREP Act and limited medical liability. It does not protect against lawsuits for willful misconduct. Willful misconduct is an intentional act or omission done with the knowledge that serious harm will occur. It is also acting or failing to act with wanton and reckless disregard to the injury of others. In other words, the doctor or medical professional knew that injury would result and still performed the action. It is deliberate harm or intent to harm. Unlike negligence, it requires actual knowledge that injury will result from the act or the omission.
While the PREP Act is in effect, injured patients can pursue willful misconduct medical malpractice lawsuits. Proving willful misconduct is not easy. It takes experience and skill, as well as considerable investigative resources. If you suspect willful misconduct led to your injury, you need a law firm on your side.
The laws are changing daily due to the global pandemic. As such, injured patients should speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately. Your attorney can review the recent declarations and laws to determine if you have cause to file a claim. When building your case to prove willful misconduct, your attorney will need to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.
If you suffered harm during coronavirus treatment, you may still have legal options. It is important to review your case with an experienced San Francisco medical malpractice attorney. At Mitchell Leeds, LLP, our lawyers know that this is a difficult and uncertain time. We also know that you have questions. That is why we offer a free initial consultations to discuss the details of your potential case. During the coronavirus, we can meet with you virtually or over the phone to help you learn more about your legal rights. Call us today at 415-769-3400 or fill out our confidential contact form.