Giving Heroes Their Shields: Providing More Immunity to the Healthcare Industry During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The year is 2022. We are experiencing a global pandemic and economic uncertainty. And while traffic might have improved, as many work remotely and socially distance, everything else is unknown as people are face-to-face with death. The future has never looked bleaker.
As of September 12, 2022, there were 1,044,461 Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) related deaths and 94,973,074 reported COVID-19 cases in the United States (“U.S.”). The effects of COVID-19 impacted people who contracted the disease, family members who lost someone, and people at risk who have been in isolation for over one year.
Another group that has been heavily affected by the virus is healthcare professionals. Healthcare workers were thrown into the frontlines without proper equipment, including personal protective equipment (“PPE”). At one point during the height of the pandemic, they also did not have enough intensive care unit (“ICU”) beds and ventilators. Because healthcare workers lacked medical equipment, they were more likely to contract COVID-19, which reduced the “quality and quantity of care available.”
In addition, because of the fast spread of COVID-19, some doctors had to stop practicing their elective surgeries, which led to reduced hours worked and a cut in salaries. Some healthcare workers had to refocus their practices from specialized to general areas of medicine. Other physicians were afraid to go to work because they lacked training for a relentless and persistent pandemic. Patients expected their physicians to answer their COVID-19-related questions, but the physicians did not have any answers.
Because healthcare workers lacked supplies, the ability to perform elective surgeries, and sufficient information about COVID-19, they had to find new ways to care for patients, thus opening them up to more civil or criminal liability. A patient might sue if he felt he did not get adequate care, a family member might sue if a patient died while under a doctor’s care, and a person might sue a hospital over insurance, contract, or civil rights disputes.