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Medical Malpractice in NC During the Pandemic

When the pandemic hit last year, North Carolina officials dedicated about $1.6 billion into COVID-19 relief as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Act. But they also made it a lot harder to win a lawsuit and get compensation if you've been harmed by a health care provider who is reckless or negligent.


The idea was to give a break to hospitals, doctors and other providers struggling with the pandemic's unprecedented burdens. As hospitals filled with coronavirus patients last year, many were having to make tough decisions in extraordinary situations with limited resources.


State legislators were hearing from hospitals and healthcare practitioners worried about being held responsible for actions or omissions related to care they provided. Unfortunately, the medical and insurance lobbies saw an opportunity to exploit people’s genuine concerns about the extra burden hospitals and doctors were facing as a result of COVID. They convinced the legislature to do something about it, and Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act into law.

This act grants immunity to hospitals and healthcare providers for all acts of negligence, regardless of whether patients were being treated for COVID or for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. Although the immunity isn’t a blanket immunity, it far exceeded what was necessary under the circumstances. However, you can still bring a medical malpractice claim under certain circumstances.


For patients, this means that it’s now tougher to collect monetary damages from a medical malpractice lawsuit, if negligence occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.


But even though it's tougher now to hold people and hospitals accountable, it's not impossible. The immunity is not complete. And it lasts only while the officially declared pandemic emergency declaration remains in place. An experienced lawyer can take a detailed look at what happened to you to see if there's a way to hold accountable those responsible for a medical error or malpractice.