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The Amended New York Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act


     In April, when lawmakers were scrambling to address the myriad of unprecedented issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a law was introduced to the New York State budget, which provided health care professionals and facilities with liability protections. The New York Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (the “Act”) extended broad immunity to nearly all healthcare facilities and professionals in their treatment of coronavirus patients from March 7, 2020 during the pendency of the COVID-19 state of emergency. While fairly broad, the immunity did not extend to medical harm caused by willful or criminal misconduct or gross negligence.

     As such broad immunity protection has the potential to trample on patients’ rights and their ability to obtain justice in the event of medical wrongdoing, on July 23, 2020, the New York State Senate and Assembly voted to partially repeal these protections. Thereafter, on August 3, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law amending the Act, which narrows the scope of the immunity provided to healthcare facilities and professionals.

     Originally, the Act granted nearly all healthcare professionals qualified immunity while providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, under the new law, the immunity is limited to those healthcare facilities and providers who are assessing or caring for individuals with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. Moreover, the care must be delivered in a manner consistent with applicable law or with an applicable COVID-19 emergency rule.

     It is important to note that the new law is not retroactive. Therefore, those healthcare facilities and professionals who were immune from liability between March 7, 2020 and August 3, 2020 remain immune. Going forward, however, only those who are assessing or caring for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients will be under the qualified immunity umbrella.  

     The new law has sweeping impact on COVID-19 patients and their efforts to receive justice. We, at the Litt Law Group, have a team of medical malpractice experts who are here to advocate for you and your family. Please do not hesitate to call us for a free consult.