Pennsylvania Provides Civil Immunity for COVID-19 Healthcare Workers
On May 6, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed an Executive Order providing limited civil immunity for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Order remains in effect for the duration of the disaster emergency. New Jersey and New York have issued similar orders in response to concerns by healthcare professionals over potential exposure to liability.
The Order contains the following provisions and limitations:
- Grants immunity to individuals with a license, certificate, registration or certification to practice a healthcare profession or occupation in Pennsylvania.
- Covered individuals must be engaged in providing COVID-19 medical and health treatment or services during the COVID-19 disaster emergency response.
- Immunity does not extend to acts or omissions that constitute a crime, gross negligence, or fraud, malice, or other willful misconduct.
- Extends immunity to medical professionals in Pennsylvania providing services in any health care facility as defined by the Health Care Facilities Act, as well as any nursing facility, personal care home, assisted living facility or any alternate care site, community-based testing site or non-congregate care facility used for the purpose of conducting emergency services activities or the provision of disaster services activities related to the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 disaster emergency response.
- Affirms immunity for any person, organization or authority allowing their location to be used for emergency services without compensation. This includes death, injury, loss or damage to the property of any person who is on the premises for the purpose of those emergency services.
- Suspends or removes certain regulatory barriers which prevent out-of-state, retired or other qualified practitioners from providing services where needed in Pennsylvania.
The Order does not appear to include outpatient facilities including nursing homes which are not providing “disaster services.” The Order also does not cover medical suppliers such as suppliers of personal protective equipment.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Gaetano Piccirilli is a partner in the Litigation Department at Klehr Harrison.