It is undeniable that COVID-19 health crisis has taken a large toll on front-line healthcare workers over the past year. In the early onset of COVID, Article 30-D of the Public Health Law, better known as the “Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act” (EDTPA) was enacted in New York. This Act sets forth protections for nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care providers and physicians from civil liability for negligent acts or omissions committed during the COVID-19 crisis. EDTPA further provides that a COVID-19 patient may only bring a medical malpractice claim for injury if the patient can establish the presence of gross negligence.
On March 26, 2021, the NY Senate passed a bill to repeal EDTPA, which was later signed into law by Governor Cuomo on April 6, 2021. This bill immediately strips all healthcare providers and physicians from the “blanket immunity” from civil liability initially set forth under Article 30-D of the Public Health Law.
Going forward, it is uncertain what will be deemed a reasonable scope for the proper standard of care and treatment for COVID-19 patients now that EDTPA has been repealed. Additionally, medical malpractice claims brought for alleged malpractice during the lifespan of the EDTPA will likely face the significant burden of proving a deviation from the standard of care at a time when there was no such standard.