July 15, 2021

ACR Summarizes COVID-19-Era Physician Liability Legislation

State legislatures have passed bills relatively recently to protect physicians from medical liability during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American College of Radiology compiled related legislation with brief summaries:

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed House Bill (HB) 76 into law. The law extends the governor's Jan. 15 declaration of a public health disaster emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It permits healthcare providers to provide treatment through telehealth without first conducting an in-person physical examination if the provider is licensed, permitted or certified to provide healthcare services in another jurisdiction. Providers also are immune from disciplinary action for sickness, death, economic loss and other damages to patients from exposure to COVID-19. The Alaska chapter monitored the bill.

The law took effect immediately.

Missouri Gov. Michael Parson signed Senate Bill (SB) 51 into law. The law protects healthcare providers from COVID-19 medical liability defined as any harm, damage, breach or tort resulting in the personal injury alleged to have been related to a provider's act or omission while arranging for or providing COVID-19-related healthcare services. The Missouri chapter supported the bill.

The law takes effect Aug. 31.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed HB 435 into law. Pursuant to the new law, a healthcare provider is not liable for civil damages for causing or contributing, directly or indirectly, to the death or injury of an individual as a result of the provider's acts or omissions while providing or arranging health care in support of the response to COVID-19, unless the provider caused the death or injury of an individual through an act or omission that constitutes gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct or an intentional tort.

The law took effect immediately and terminates Dec. 31, 2031.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 6 into law. Except in a case of reckless conduct or intentional, willful or wanton misconduct, healthcare providers are not liable for an injury, including economic and non-economic damages, or death arising from care, treatment or failure to provide care or treatment relating to or impacted by a pandemic disease or a disaster declaration related to a pandemic disease. The physician must prove that a pandemic disease was a producing cause of the care or failure to provide care that allegedly caused the injury or death; or the individual who suffered injury or death was diagnosed or reasonably suspected to be injected with a pandemic disease at the time of the care.

The law took effect immediately.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed SF 19 into law. The law protects any healthcare provider from liability for damages in an action involving a COVID-19 liability claim unless the person seeking damages proves that the provider took actions that constitute gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

The law took effect immediately.

If you have questions or would like more information, contact Tina Getachew or Eugenia Brandt. To stay current on state legislative developments relevant to radiology, view the American College of Radiology® policy map.