Victims of nursing home abuse , hospital neglect or medical malpractice in New York State not related to Covid-19 can legally hold healthcare professionals responsible for their negligence again.
Yesterday, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that rolls back the legal immunity that nursing homes and hospitals were granted during the coronavirus crisis
Since yesterday these institutions can again be held liable in criminal prosecutions and lawsuits.
Back in April, as New York became one of the world’s hot spots of the Covid-19 pandemic and hospitals as well as nursing homes were overwhelmed by the situation and dealing with staffing and equipment shortage, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that shielded hospitals and nursing homes from liability lawsuits except those related to gross negligence, reckless misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress or criminal behavior. This immunity has been lifted yesterday for patients who require care not related to Covid-19. Patients treated for Covid-19 still can’t bring any lawsuits against the facility that treats them. The immunity also continues to apply retroactively from the start of the pandemic until yesterday.
While it is completely understandable that healthcare workers who have been working around the clock in superhuman conditions during the crisis be shielded from lawsuits, nursing home resident advocates still found that the law was going to far. With family and long-term care ombudsmen barred from visits, the most vulnerable patients were left by themselves without anybody being able to watch what was happening to them in facilities with a history of neglect and abuse.
Nursing home residents advocates believe that the roll back didn’t go far enough and that the immunity should be repealed retroactively since the beginning of the pandemic. On the other side, nursing homes and hospitals believe the repeal of the immunity is coming too early and may prevent volunteers or medical students to be willing to take care of future patients in case of a future surge of cases. LAWPAC the political action committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, of which our partner Jeffrey Bloom is Co-Chair, was instrumental in getting this bill through the legislature.
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