The Complexity of COVID-19 Medical Malpractice Claims – Do I Have a Case?

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

As of Feb. 6, 2023, conditions for COVID-19 are improving in most of the U.S., with reported cases and hospitalizations falling by more than 20 percent nationally in the past two weeks, according to the latest data from the New York Times.

The decrease in hospitalizations in most states is especially noteworthy. As of this posting, about 30,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide, a promising drop from 50,000 at the start of 2023. Test positivity, however, has recently risen after a few weeks of sustained declines. If the trend continues, cases and hospitalizations could increase again.

COVID-19 Medical Malpractice Issues

Just as coronavirus variants continue to shift and evolve, the legal landscape surrounding COVID-19 medical malpractice claims continues to do the same.

Today, COVID-19 medical malpractice claims can arise from different aspects of medical care provided during the pandemic. Examples Include:

  • Failure to diagnose: This happens if a healthcare provider fails to properly diagnose COVID-19, leading to delayed treatment and potentially worsening the patient’s condition.
  • Misdiagnosis: This can occur if the healthcare provider mistakenly diagnoses a COVID-19 infection and, in the process, fails to treat another serious condition.
  • Negligent treatment: This happens when a healthcare provider fails to provide adequate care to a COVID-19 patient – such as administering improper medications or neglecting to follow the proper treatment protocols – which can lead to complications or a more severe injury.
  • Wrongful death: If a healthcare provider’s failure to provide appropriate care to a COVID-19 patient leads to their death, this may form the foundation of a wrongful death medical malpractice claim.

Can a healthcare provider be held liable for COVID-19 Related Medical Malpractice?

Yes, but certain restrictions apply. The federal government has provided some liability protections for healthcare providers related to COVID-19 through the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The act provides immunity from liability for specific claims related to medical countermeasures, including COVID-19 vaccines and some related treatments, if the covered products were authorized for emergency use by the FDA and were used pursuant to any conditions or limitations of the emergency authorization.

Additionally, some states enacted laws or regulations that may protect and provide legal immunity to healthcare professionals for COVID-19 medical care if they acted in good faith and followed the standard of care in effect at the time. However, these protections are not absolute.

How does a COVID-19 Medical Malpractice claim progress?

Medical Malpractice claims tied to COVID-19 are subject to the same legal requirements that govern other types of medical malpractice claims. Successful claims will need to prove:

  1. Breach: The healthcare provider breached, or failed to meet, their duty of care
  2. Causation: The failure to meet their duty was a direct cause of a severe injury to the patient
  3. Damages: The injury caused damages, including potential medical expenses, past and future loss of income, and past and future physical and emotional pain and suffering.

COVID-19 medical malpractice claims can be complex. Federal and state laws that may protect and immunize healthcare professionals providing COVID-19 medical care can add to this complexity.

Attorney Matt Menzer is a highly-skilled, respected, and compassionate lawyer who has represented people injured by medical malpractice for over 30 years. You can count on Matt to protect your rights and help you achieve maximum compensation for your injuries and damages. If you or someone you love was seriously injured because a healthcare provider failed to meet their duty of care, contact Menzer Law at 206.903.1818 or fill out this online form and our team will review your claim at no cost to you.