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Physician Liability and COVID-19: Why You Should Expand Coverage

For close to a year now, our nation has suffered with the various impacts of COVID-19. This pandemic has plagued the country, and the world, inciting concern, fear and frustration as we tentatively move into an uncertain future. Through it all, healthcare workers have been on the front lines, fighting to keep every one of us safe from harm. While healthcare workers have been constantly adjusting to the changes COVID-19 has brought, there is another piece of the pandemic puzzle that puts them at risk: physician liability. 

As the pandemic continues, physicians may face an array of challenges that are unique to the pandemic, including prioritizing COVID-19 care over other health conditions, and working to support their patients with a lack of resources. Here, the medical professional liability insurance providers at Unity Insurance discuss why you should expand your insurance coverage as a physician during this time, and the risks you may face if legal action is brought against you.

Prioritizing COVID-19 Treatment Over Non-Related Health Conditions

When you hear the term “physician liability” in relation to the pandemic, your first thought is likely that insurance carriers are working to protect physicians against legal cases brought against them for COVID-19 transmission. While this does occur, medical professional liability primarily relates to the slew of risks outside of this transmission that physicians are facing. Because of the high demand for healthcare workers, the majority of their time and energy is being spent treating patients with COVID-19 or related conditions. As a result, this has pushed back appointments and treatment for unrelated conditions, which creates a risk for physicians if their patient declined after not being treated in a timely manner. 

Additionally, the influx of telehealth and telemedicine appointments have produced excessive risk for physicians, as they are unable to physically examine their patients. On the other side, certain patients have been more wary of seeing physicians in person, as they are nervous about contracting COVID-19 from a healthcare facility. All of these factors come together to create excessive liability risks for physicians, which is why creating a plan for comprehensive coverage is so important.

Federal Regulations Have Been Established to Assist Medical Professionals

One area of relief for medical professionals is the expansion of federal acts, including the CARES and PREP Acts, to provide protection to healthcare workers. Under the CARES Act, physicians and other medical professionals who provide volunteer care during this time should not be held liable for providing such services that relate to the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of COVID-19. However, this does not include protection against negligence or misconduct on the part of the physician.

In addition to the CARES Act, the PREP, or Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, provides immunity protections to physicians and healthcare professionals that administer treatment such as vaccines, diagnostics and other drugs to mitigate or cure COVID-19 and its transmission. While these federal protections assist physicians during this time, there are still many gaps in which physicians may fall victim to risk. For example, the Maryland Public Safety Immunity Act does not cover physicians who are providing routine care for a non-COVID patient, and if a patient had contracted COVID-19 but was being treated for an unrelated condition, this may also not provide protection. 

Why You Should Expand Your Medical Professional Liability Coverage

 Now more than ever, physicians are at a heightened risk of litigation. With much uncertainty and a fear for the future, individuals and families are struggling to comprehend the impact COVID-19 has had on their daily lives. The magnitude of this pandemic has required physicians to pivot and adapt consistently to provide the best care possible for their patients, and often, they fall victim to circumstances that are out of their control, such as rationed or unavailable resources that may ultimately lead to decline in the patient’s health. With all of the additional stressors that physicians are facing, liability coverage should not be one of them. Seeking additional insurance coverage and protection can provide peace of mind, so that you can focus on what is most important — helping the patients that are most in need. 

See How Unity Can Help You With Medical Professional Liability Insurance

At Unity Insurance, formerly MedChi Insurance Agency, our roots are set in the medical field. With decades of experience assisting physicians and other medical professionals in their insurance journey, our team is deeply knowledgeable in regards to the intricacies of insurance in the Mid-Atlantic region. We understand that each business is different, and as a healthcare provider, there are a variety of risks that are specific in nature, and must be molded to fit your practice. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for decades following, our team is here to provide comprehensive coverage options for your medical practice, so you can take on your job with confidence and clarity. To see how our team can assist you and to learn more about our insurance options, contact our team here: