There is no question that COVID-19 has upended the lives of many not just here in Rhode Island and across the country but also around the world. The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on people’s health. But it has also caused financial and economic devastation for many.
Our Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyers have also seen the effect the pandemic has had on various types of medical negligence and how some claims have been affected by the pandemic. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury or harm as a result of medical negligence, it is important that you contact an experienced Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights.
Types of Medical Malpractice Claims Arising from COVID-19
As different parts of the country continue to experience surges in infection rates, there may be a number of different medical malpractice claims that could potentially arise. Here are just a few examples.
Lack of preparation: Healthcare providers, including clinics, urgent care centers and hospitals, have a duty of care to their patients, which requires them to take the necessary steps to provide care in a safe environment. That means healthcare providers should have a plan in place, including safety protocols during the pandemic. They should also provide appropriate training to staff on how to implement these protocols.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidelines and acceptable standards of care as well as requirements for healthcare providers to limit patients’ exposure to the virus. Some of these protocols may include proper hand-washing procedures and posting clear signage for patients. It is important for staff to be trained when it comes to asking patients the right questions to determine whether he or she may have been exposed to the virus.
Lack of infection control plan: An infection control plan at a healthcare facility should include a number of measures from all staff members being equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) to sanitizing procedures for exam rooms and equipment. Lawsuits could stem from cases where hospitals failed to provide proper or adequate PPE to protect frontline healthcare workers.
Lack of proper patient care: Patients have a right to receive care at healthcare facilities without discrimination. During the pandemic, we’ve read accounts of some facilities that turned away patients or abandoned them when they displayed acute respiratory symptoms from COVID-19. There have also been cases where patients have been misdiagnosed due to provider negligence or because of defective test kits. Failure to diagnose patients with COVID-19, or a delayed diagnosis, could prove fatal.
Immunity for Healthcare Professionals
What has proved challenging for patients is that many states are implementing new laws to provide immunity to healthcare workers. For example, as the crisis unfolded, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimundo imposed sweeping emergency orders, including declaring healthcare workers “disaster response workers” and providing immunity from legal liability for nursing homes for death or injury related to COVID-19 unless “gross negligence can be proven.”
Also, under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), frontline volunteer workers have immunity from lawsuits. Section 3215 of the CARES Act provides immunity to healthcare professionals who are volunteering their expertise during the pandemic. Those protected under this section of the CARES Act may not be held liable for services they provide relating to COVID-19 and patient care. However, in addition to only applying to volunteer healthcare workers, the services rendered must remain in the scope set forth by the worker’s medical license.
How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help
Our medical malpractice lawyers have a thorough knowledge of state and federal laws that apply to medical negligence and the pandemic. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or became infected with COVID-19 due to the negligence or misconduct of another, we can help review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether you have a basis for a malpractice claim.
If you have contracted COVID-19, you may incur hospital bills, miss several weeks of work and even suffer long-term symptoms that could affect your ability to return to normal life. These costs are severe enough to threaten an individual or family’s financial stability. It is important to determine whether you may have legal recourse and the opportunity to recover compensation for your losses. Our lawyers are here to help you understand your rights and offer guidance during these challenging times.
In such cases, we’ll need to thoroughly investigate the injury and harm you’ve suffered, including factors that may have contributed to your condition. You deserve maximum compensation for the injuries, damages and losses you have sustained. The experienced Rhode Island Medical Malpractice Lawyers can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Call our firm at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out an online contact form for a free (no obligation) case evaluation.