Since its arrival in the United States nearly one year ago, more than 15 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the country. It’s not just patients suffering; healthcare workers are also feeling the impact. All of this is bringing attention to the issue of medical malpractice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Potential impact on the healthcare industry
A pandemic like COVID-19 increases the liability that physicians and other medical professionals might face. The extreme influx of cases means that healthcare workers are seeing more patients and working longer hours. These factors may unfortunately lead to some medical mistakes being made.
So, what does that mean for healthcare workers? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, some physicians see the possibility of a medical malpractice crisis which would increase premiums for medical professional liability insurance.
Recently, Massachusetts implemented some liability protections for volunteers during this crisis, but those protections do not apply to many paid physicians.
Who can face liability for medical malpractice?
Whether or not a medical error is related to COVID-19, it’s not just physicians who can be sued for medical malpractice. Many other types of providers can face liability, including:
- Hospitals, urgent care centers and medical practices
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Therapists and psychologists
What this means for patients
Patients are also being affected by this pandemic, and you need to know your rights. Essentially, malpractice happens when a medical professional fails to competently perform his or her duties. COVID-19 is a new phenomenon and doctors are still learning about its spread and symptoms, meaning mistakes can happen.
Despite the current lack of information surrounding the virus, you are still entitled to comprehensive and competent care. If a mistake is made, you also need to know if you are entitled to compensation.
Do you think you have a case?
To have a case for medical malpractice, you would need to show a relationship between the patient and provider, negligence from the provider, harm from that negligence and specific damages from the harm.
Whether or not that harm is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, most medical malpractice claims fall into one of three categories:
- Failure to diagnose: Meaning a competent doctor would have discovered the patient’s illness or made a different diagnosis leading to a better outcome.
- Improper treatment: Meaning a doctor has treated a patient in a way that no other competent doctor would.
- Failure to warn a patient of known risks: Meaning that a patient would have made a different decision if they had known about the risks of a treatment or procedure.
If you think you fall under one of these categories, you should know that cases must be brought soon after the injury. That deadline is within three years here in Massachusetts, but that may be subject to change due to the state’s lockdown guidelines.
If you believe you or your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us today.