Healthcare and medicine should be held to the strictest standards. As such, the healthcare industry follows specific guidelines and protocols to deliver the best quality of services.
In order to create a healthy environment in the medical landscape, both service providers and the general public must work hand-in-hand.
Unfortunately, a pandemic outbreak is an enormous problem that challenges the entire healthcare infrastructure.
As the current pandemic is nowhere near to what health professionals and the public normally deal with, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty.
On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many flaws in the healthcare system that need to be resolved.
In this article, you’re going to delve into the impacts of COVID-19 on the healthcare landscape and see how medical malpractices happen in the time of a pandemic.
1. Impacts of COVID-19 on the Healthcare Industry
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare and medical services for noncommunicable diseases were disrupted.
People seeking routine check-ups and treatments from their healthcare provider found their options extremely limited as any in-person visits would increase their risks of contracting or spreading the disease.
Globally, 49% of diabetes treatment was interrupted, 53% for hypertension treatment, 31% in cardiovascular emergencies, 42% for cancer treatment, and 63% of rehabilitation services like physical therapy, mental health rehabilitation, occupational therapy, and more.
These health conditions that require regular attention can worsen over time if not addressed.
Hence, patients with these conditions are stuck between needing to seek continued medical care for their chronic conditions and risking contracting a potentially fatal disease.
Depending on the kind of medical treatment required for their conditions, not all patients have had the option of relying on virtual visits.
Some treatments, such as for conditions like cancer, require being on site in a medical facility.
2. Healthcare Workers Needed More Than Ever
Among various industries and populations affected by the health crisis, healthcare workers are highly compromised as they’re the first line of defense in battling the outbreak.
Their contributions are undeniably significant in controlling and defeating the disease.
With the massive influx of COVID-19 patients, healthcare facilities are struggling to keep up—there’s not enough staff and resources to accommodate the numbers of COVID-19 patients, especially once members of the staff contract the disease as well and become unable to work.
Many healthcare professionals in unrelated specialties have had to help in the handling of COVID-19. At some point, several hospitals had to reject both infected patients and non-infected patients.
However, healthcare workers are also still exposed to the dangers of medical law, specifically medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is a violation of medical practice where a healthcare worker fails to attend to a patient’s needs, thus inflicting injury to the patient.
This error may occur in various stages of the patient’s care, such as during diagnosis, treatment, recovery, aftercare, or health management.
In cases of malpractice, the affected patient can pursue a case against the healthcare practitioner who committed the malpractice.
They can also sue a medical administration, not only one medical professional, by filing a hospital lawsuit. Lawsuits filed against hospitals are a relevant topic currently as there are higher chances of negligence during a massive outbreak.
3. COVID-19 Malpractice Challenges: Demands for Higher Standards of Care
As mentioned earlier, a pandemic is an entirely new experience for almost every single person currently alive.
Thus, new challenges will arise for medical workers, including malpractice challenges. One of the most significant malpractice issues that medical experts will likely encounter is errors in diagnosis.
Many people experiencing health conditions presently, either COVID-related or not, are afraid to seek medical attention.
Because of their situation’s uncertainties, they tend to ask for help from medical experts only once they’ve progressed into dangerous stages of their condition.
As a result, healthcare workers may inappropriately diagnose the patient, particularly during the pandemic’s early onset when testing supplies were scarce.
One wrong move can put a patient’s life in danger. However, with 75 million COVID-19 cases around the world, medical workers are even more pressured than ever.
With more than one million COVID-19 deaths, many families may be urged to sue their healthcare providers due to negligence that caused their loved ones’ death.
4. Malpractice Lawsuit Procedures During the Pandemic
Despite limited physical contact in the COVID-19 era, many plaintiffs still pursue filing malpractice lawsuits, especially if they’re related to COVID-19.
Some plaintiffs also choose to resume their lawsuit procedures that had begun before the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, medical workers charged with malpractice lawsuits linked to COVID-19 treatment malpractice have increased protection under the law.
Before, doctors had 80% to 90% winning odds as plaintiffs fail to provide strong evidence of medical negligence. Half of these cases even had concrete proof of malpractice.
Now, thanks to several laws and regulations established this year, physicians will be more protected from malpractice lawsuits.
Case in point, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act implemented last March aims to safeguard healthcare workers involved in the COVID-19 fight.
Furthermore, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed in the same month.
This implementation provides immunity against federal liability for medical workers fulfilling their medical responsibilities associated with COVID-19 prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, whether the cases were suspected to be COVID-19 or actually COVID-19 cases.
Malpractice liability and lawsuit protection can still vary from state to state.
Some immunity is granted only to healthcare services related to the COVID-19, while some states protect physicians rendering any public health service during the pandemic.
5. Handling Medical Malpractice as a Healthcare Worker Amid COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic opened opportunities for medical professionals in terms of protection against medical malpractice charges, and these may continue as the ‘new normal’ in the legal landscape.
Many malpractice charges usually arise from misunderstandings and lack of communication between the doctor and patient.
Medical workers can prevent these misunderstandings by showing suitable bedside manner to patients. In this way, they can build connections both inside and outside the hospital and improve their communication skills.
Medical records and histories of patients are even more valuable today. As non-infected patients avoid healthcare facilities in order to avoid exposure to COVID-19, their health conditions may worsen.
One good tip to prevent this is keeping in touch with your patients through the innovative tech called telemedicine if your healthcare facility supports it.
In case of any malpractice charges, having sufficient documentation about the care and treatment that you’ve provided is the most substantial piece of evidence that you can show a jury to defend your case.
Undesirable results may occur during our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic due to numerous unprecedented obstacles.
However, medical workers are risking their lives serving the public in eradicating this destructive outbreak, and they’re the most scared when it comes to their and their families’ health.
While malpractice lawsuits are nowhere near decreasing today, healthcare workers have at least received additional protection against medical malpractice lawsuits during this unprecedented event.