CMA urges lawmakers to protect physicians from unfair lawsuits during public health emergency

May 12, 2020

The California Medical Association (CMA) and the California Hospital Association (CHA) are urging Congress to pass legislation that includes protection against unfair lawsuits for health care workers.

California’s physicians and hospitals are on the front lines of a crisis unlike any our state has ever faced. Every hospital and physician in the state was called upon to prepare for a surge of acutely ill patients. Providers stepped up, responding to the call to action by ceasing non-essential services and creating new patient care units in tents, arenas, convention centers and other unlikely spaces. 

Making beds available for COVID-19 patients means delaying care to patients who need biopsies, heart valve replacements, or gall bladder removals. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 means restricting visitors in our hospitals and clinics and shuttering private medical practices. Saving the lives of patients afflicted with a new pathogen means trying drugs, doses or procedures without full knowledge of all the ramifications.

Health care providers need assurance they will not later be judged or sued when abiding by the government’s directives to create surge capacity, or when making care decisions based on their best judgment and determination at the time.

In this time of crisis, hospitals and physicians must be able to observe, evaluate, and respond to rapidly changing conditions and events; the prospect of being subjected to future lawsuits would burden and slow these decisions, threatening greater loss of life throughout California.

As providers continue their work in the coming weeks and months, we must give them the support they need to make the best possible decisions, including protections from future legal action, as long as that protection does not excuse willful malicious intent to cause harm.

View the CMA/CHA letter.


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