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New York Executive Orders Diminish Liability for Medical Malpractice During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every aspect of life in New York for the foreseeable future and has caused an unprecedented strain on hospitals and healthcare providers. In response to the pandemic, the governor issued several executive orders placing restrictions on activities in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. While the orders largely aim to protect public health, a portion of the orders arguably diminishes the protections of people seeking medical treatment, as it reduces healthcare providers’ liability for medical malpractice. If you believe you were harmed due to incompetent medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic or at any other time, it is wise to talk to a capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorney regarding what damages you may be able to recover via a civil lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Reportedly, Governor Cuomo signed legislation at the beginning of March 2020 that enacted the State’s budget, limiting liability for health care providers and facilities for health care services provided pursuant to a COVID-19 emergency rule or else accordance with pertinent law, unless the acts were grossly negligent, constituted reckless misconduct, or willful or intentional conduct, or intentional infliction of harm.

Governor Cuomo also issued an Executive Order on March 23, 2020, stating in part that any statute, law, ordinance, rule, or regulation that hindered, prevented, or delayed people from coping with the disaster or providing aid was temporarily suspended. Further, the order specifically provided that all physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physician assistants, and specialist assistants are immune from civil liability for any death or injuries that are alleged to have directly resulted from their omissions or acts in the course of providing medical services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the State. Notably, however, there are exceptions for cases in which a death or injury was caused by the gross negligence of the medical professional in question.

The order also lifted record keeping requirements for health care providers as needed for them to perform tasks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, they may not be required to maintain records that accurately reflect the treatment or evaluation of patients or to assign diagnostic codes. Additionally, the order lifted or eased licensing and certification requirements for many medical professionals.

Based on the foregoing, anyone who suffers harm due to medical treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely face an uphill battle in the pursuit of damages. Specifically, to prove gross negligence under New York law, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit must establish conduct that is malicious or wanton or behavior that was brought on by reprehensible or evil motives. Further, as providers may not keep accurate records treating people during the pandemic, it may be difficult to establish the providers motive or the manner in which his or her actions may constitute gross negligence as required to recover damages.

Speak with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorney regarding what recourse may be available for your injuries. The dedicated attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will advise you of your options for seeking damages and assist you in pursuing any compensation you may be able to recover. You can reach us through our form online or at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting to discuss your case.

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