Florida is slowly emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed hundreds of our fellow residents. However, one issue thrust into the spotlight is legal liability for how doctors, nursing homes, and other medical facilities have handled the crisis. The sad reality is that some deaths probably were preventable had medical professionals followed the correct standard of care.
A group of medical associations has asked Governor DeSantis to shield them from legal liability for any COVID-19 related cases, even for wrongful death. These associations include the Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Medical Association, and the Florida Nurse Practitioners Network, among others.
Other States Have Offered Protection
These organizations have watched as governors in other states have issued sweeping liability protections for their health care providers. For example, governors in 11 states have issued orders to protect doctors from lawsuits. The states include Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Governors in another 11 states have issued orders protecting nursing homes from lawsuits. These states include Connecticut, Georgia, and Hawaii. A few other states have passed legislation to this effect.
According to the Miami Herald, Governor DeSantis has not yet given an opinion on what he will do in Florida.
A Focus on Nursing Homes
Many of our COVID-19 deaths in Florida have occurred in nursing homes. The Miami Herald notes that as of April 23, 2020, there 2,386 COVID-19 cases involving residents or staff in our state’s long-term care facilities. More than 10% of the people infected have died of the virus. The nursing home population is especially vulnerable, given the advanced age of residents and their myriad health problems.
Nursing homes are hoping that DeSantis will protect them from lawsuits for violating their residents’ rights. We can only interpret this move to mean that nursing home administrators are aware that they have been negligent in the care they have provided their residents. For their part, nursing home advocates claim that the guidelines they have received from state, federal and local authorities have been conflicting.
Did a Loved One Die from COVID-19? Call Our Miami Wrongful Death Attorneys
In the early days of the pandemic, medical professionals can be forgiven for not knowing how to respond. However, best practices quickly developed, and hospitals and nursing homes should have put in place procedures for limiting the spread of the virus in their facilities. Doctors also should have become more skilled at identifying the symptoms and offering appropriate care. For Governor DeSantis to shield negligent medical providers from lawsuits would be a mistake.
If a loved one died, then you might have a claim for compensation. Please contact Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein LLP for more information. You can schedule a consultation if you call 305-371-2692.