COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Inadequate Safety Protocols During COVID-19

Chicago Lawyers Helping Patients Infected with Coronavirus

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers must develop and implement new health and safety protocols for triaging contagious patients, setting up separate areas for those who test positive to COVID-19, obtaining enough ventilators, and using personal protective equipment. If you contracted the coronavirus while at a hospital or medical clinic due to inadequate safety protocols during COVID-19, call the Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca for a consultation.

Inadequate Safety Protocols During COVID-19

Safety protocols have been changed to meet the challenges of COVID-19. For instance, the Illinois Department of Public Health requires patients to meet certain criteria before undergoing elective surgery. Within 72 hours of a scheduled elective procedure, patients must take a preoperative COVID-10 RT-PCR test that results in a COVID-19 negative status. Then, patients must self-quarantine until the day of their procedure. Patients cannot have a fever of 100.4 degrees or more on the day of the elective procedure.

Under Executive Order 2020-37, Illinois health care providers are eligible for immunity from civil liability if they render assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and follow the pertinent guidance to properly use personal protective equipment, conduct widespread testing, and meet other obligations. Immunity is bestowed where a provider’s act or omission occurred in the course of rendering assistance. However, immunity may be removed where there is gross negligence or willful misconduct.  When health care facilities do not follow safety protocols, their actions may possibly be considered gross negligence.

Medical Malpractice

Ordinarily, to establish civil liability for medical malpractice, you would need to show it’s more likely than not that the departure from the applicable standard of care by a health care provider caused your injuries. However, the governor’s executive orders related to COVID-19 have altered the burden of proof.  Plaintiffs seeking to recover damages for medical malpractice during the COVID-19 pandemic must meet the higher standard that the health care provider’s departure from the pandemic standard of care amounted to gross negligence or willful conduct.

In other words, in order to recover damages on your behalf in a medical malpractice lawsuit after being harmed by inadequate safety protocols during COVID-19, you must identify overt, grossly negligent or willful actions taken by your health care provider in connection with safety protocols. The actions cannot be only an ordinary departure from the professional standard of care; they must be more. It is not entirely clear what protocols courts will find grossly negligent or willful in the context of medical malpractice. In the past, courts have found gross negligence where health care providers exhibited a conscious disregard for safety. They have also found willful or wanton misconduct where reckless behavior caused physical harm. A health care provider’s conscious adoption of inadequate safety protocols would likely meet this standard, whereas a careless approach to safety protocols would not. For example, if a health care provider routinely allowed instruments to be used in surgery without sterilizing them and as a result a patient was infected and died, this is likely to be seen as gross negligence.

It is more difficult to bring a successful case against a provider under the executive orders that apply during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it can be done with the help of a lawyer who works with credible experts.

Experts

Often, medical malpractice lawsuits turn into a battle of experts. Each expert is usually knowledgeable in the defendant’s specialty. However, the situation may be a little different where the issue is inadequate safety protocols that result in injury related to COVID-19. You may need experts in epidemiology and infectious disease, not just in the same specialty as your doctor. Experts in these areas can provide opinions about whether safety protocols were inadequate for purposes of COVID-19 and can testify whether these inadequate safety protocols amounted to gross negligence.

Consult a Seasoned Attorney in Chicago

If you believe inadequate safety protocols caused you harm during COVID-19 in Chicago, you should discuss your circumstances with the experienced lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. We represent injured patients in Quincy, Rockford, Aurora, and Champaign, along with Cook, Adams, Winnebago, Kane, and Sangamon Counties. Contact us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525 or complete our online form.