SOURCE: State of Reform

Governor Doug Ducey today extended an executive order giving frontline health care workers protection from civil liability claims. This is the third time Ducey has renewed the “Good Samaritan” protections for health workers, having originally issued the order in April and extending it in June. Today’s renewal will last until March 31, 2021.

The order provides civil immunity to health professionals who make “good faith” decisions in their COVID-19 medical practices. It protects licensed and volunteer health care professionals, emergency medical care technicians, state health care institutions, treatment facilities and other sites the state has designated to respond to the pandemic.

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The order will boost existing medical staff and clarify the liability protections available to health care workers.

“We are fully committed to protecting Arizona’s health care heroes,” Ducey said. “[The executive order] will ensure our medical professionals are protected when acting in good faith in emergency situations. We will continue to work with health care partners to provide support where it’s needed.”

The protections guard these personnel from medical negligence claims like refusal to prescribe hydroxychloroquine or delays in care due to the requirement to put on Personal Protective Equipment. While protections like these do not prevent people from suing providers for negligence (the state cannot limit public access to courts), they protect providers against lawsuits.

In February, the federal government implemented the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. This allowed the secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a broad safeguard against civil liability for “covered persons” — defined as general health care providers and their employees. Many states have chosen to subsequently implement their own, more specific protections.

Liability protections have been an ongoing point of contention on Capitol Hill, with Republicans demanding an inclusion of civil liability protections in the next federal stimulus package. McConnell and other Republicans have demanded that these protections be included to limit COVID-19 exposure liability claims against nurses, doctors, teachers and small business owners.