Lawmakers To Field COVID-19 Liability Legislation

Gov. Charlie Baker is filing legislation Wednesday afternoon that would extend liability protection to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic to address a fear of some front-line medical personnel who are being asked to work in abnormal conditions, according to an administration source.

An official familiar with the legislation said it's intended to protect from lawsuits workers who will be caring for patients in unique settings, like the DCU Center in Worcester or the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston, where the state has set up field hospitals to take COVID-19 patients that overflow from nearby hospitals.

Providers are "anxious" about caring for patients under circumstances and in facilities with which they are not familiar, the official said.

The bill will be filed in Senate, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association this week called for such a bill to protect nurses and other licensed health care professionals, volunteers and new medical school graduates who are being pulled into the fight against COVID-19, and being asked to practice medicine that, at times, is outside their field of expertise.

The nurses union said Rep. Denise Garlick, who herself is a registered nurse, plans to file legislation to give medical professionals immunity from civil liability for "any injury or death alleged to have been sustained directly as a result of an act or omission by such medical professional in the course of providing medical services in support of the State’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, unless it is established that such injury or death was caused by the gross negligence of such medical professional."

Similar legislation was signed into law in New York on April 3.

Rep. Jeffrey Roy of Franklin has also filed a bill that would extend legal protections to institutions providing care for COVID-19 during the pandemic. That bill is before the House Rules Committee.



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