Coronavirus-Related Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida
As the state of Florida nears 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 60 deaths, many Floridians worry that they might get infected with the coronavirus. But what if COVID-19 is misdiagnosed? Or what if a hospital fails to treat a coronavirus patient in a timely manner?
Can you sue for medical malpractice in any of such cases? Or do healthcare providers have immunity from such claims during the coronavirus pandemic?
COVID-19 Could Lead to Increased Med Mal Claims
According to Business Insurance, the COVID-19 pandemic could result in increased medical malpractice claims. However, the question of liability in med mal cases stemming from coronavirus remains unclear at this point, as federal and state governments could pass legislation to limit healthcare providers’ liability in cases related to COVID-19.
The report explains that increased med mal claims could stem from:
- The hospital system’s lack of preparedness for a pandemic of this magnitude;
- Failure to diagnose coronavirus (COVID-19);
- Failure to provide appropriate and timely treatment; and
- Delaying unrelated procedures because of the pandemic.
Types of Coronavirus Medical Malpractice
It is unknown how the coronavirus pandemic will evolve in the U.S., when it will be over, how many people will become infected, how healthcare providers and hospitals may respond to an overflow of patients, how severely the virus will affect those who become infected. Thus, it is unclear at this point how courts will handle coronavirus medical malpractice claims.
In fact, it is possible that lawmakers could enact legislation barring people from suing healthcare providers and hospitals for medical malpractice that may arise out of the coronavirus pandemic. This may mean that even negligent doctors and hospitals may be granted immunity from liability.
As hospitals in Florida and across the U.S. grapple with the pandemic, coronavirus-related medical malpractice claims may arise due to hospitals’ negligent failure to:
- Prepare for or respond appropriately to infected patients;
- Timely diagnose the coronavirus (COVID-19 misdiagnosis);
- Take reasonable precautions to prevent or minimize the spread of coronavirus among patients and visitors;
- Administer the coronavirus test in a timely manner;
- Timely and properly treat coronavirus patients; and
- Provide unrelated treatment and perform medical procedures for other patients due to the pandemic (e.g., the hospital suspended all non-essential or irrelevant procedures because it was overrun with coronavirus patients).
Can You File a Coronavirus Medical Malpractice Claim?
Because of the coronavirus pandemic’s never-before-seen nationwide impact on people, businesses, governments, public entities, and all aspects of our lives, it is difficult to predict how the U.S. tort system will respond to coronavirus-related medical malpractice claims.
It is also unclear whether legislators will enact legislation to expand healthcare providers’ immunity from medical malpractice claims or whether coronavirus patients and their family members will be able to obtain compensation for their losses.
If you believe that malpractice worsened or caused your coronavirus infection, talk to a Lakeland medical malpractice attorney. Let our attorneys at The Turnbull Firm investigate your coronavirus-related medical malpractice claim and determine whether you have a valid claim to sue for damages. Call at 407-612-6464 or 863-324-3500 to receive a consultation.