Why Are Only Some Pa. Physicians Caring for COVID-19 Patients Protected with Medical Liability Immunity?

Last Updated: May 28, 2020

Since early March, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the state, Pennsylvania physicians have found themselves on the front lines of a deadly pandemic.

From the outset, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has had a single-minded focus on helping doctors navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19. We urged the governor to issue an executive order on providing medical liability immunity for health care practitioners caring for COVID-19 patients.

On May 6, 2020, Gov. Wolf did issue an executive order granting immunity for certain practitioners, including those providing care in hospital and long-term care facility settings. While PAMED sees this as a good first step, the order falls short because it does not cover practitioners in outpatient settings.

Physicians Should be Protected in Any Setting: Share PAMED’s “Am I Covered Here?” Video

A physician’s freedom to respond quickly and confidently to any patient with COVID-19 symptoms is essential to providing the highest quality of care. We believe physicians should be protected in any setting where they see COVID-19 patients.

PAMED’s new video featuring physician members in a variety of practice settings asks the question “Am I covered here?”

Our members are encouraged to share the video on social media. And tell Governor Wolf and Pa. lawmakers to provide medical liability protection to health care workers in every place they see patients.

Contact the governor's office by calling (717) 787-2500. To find contact information for your lawmakers, visit our Find My Legislator tool here.

PAMED Is Part of Coalition Urging Federal & State Action on Medical Liability Immunity

On May 20, PAMED and a coalition of 28 health care associations led by the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania sent letters to Gov. Wolf and the Pa. General Assembly and to Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation. We urged further action on the issue of medical liability immunity.

In the letter to the Pa. Congressional delegation, we asked lawmakers to take action to ensure that liability protections apply to all services where care was deferred as a result of state orders to close services. The dramatic drop in utilization of services and the deferral of procedures likely will adversely impact the future health outcomes for certain patients.

“Every night at 7 p.m. the nation applauds health care heroes in hospitals and other facilities, but in the absence of your action to enact good faith liability protections, long after the applause dies down these heroes will be fighting a mountain of litigation,” we wrote to federal lawmakers.

Our letter to the governor and state lawmakers asked for further executive or legislative action to protect facilities and other providers in this challenging environment. We requested:

  • Immunity protections for all licensed facilities and service providers, as well as administrators and other nonclinical leadership, beginning the first day of the disaster declaration
  • An extension of liability protections to circumstances where care was deferred due to state orders to close services

Next Steps & Additional Resources

PAMED will continue to advocate on behalf of our membership for medical liability immunity for all physicians.

For more information on PAMED’s COVID-19 advocacy for physicians, including on the issue of medical liability immunity, visit our COVID-19 resource page at www.pamedsoc.org/coronavirus and click on the “Advocacy and Action” tab.

We also offer a Quick Consult fact sheet that answers frequently asked questions on the order. It shares details on which facilities are covered, who is exempted, how long immunity under the order lasts, and more. View Fact Sheet.

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