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Civil Immunity Protections for Health Care Providers Serving to Combat COVID-19

Health & Life Sciences Alert Randall R. Fearnow, Edward L. Holloran, III, Ryan L. Torres

A number of states, including Indiana, Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts, are taking measures to grant health care providers responding to COVID-19 civil immunity via new legislation, new guidance interpreting the scope of existing civil immunity statues, or executive order.

For example, in Indiana, Indiana Code section 34-30-13.5-1 et seq. provides civil immunity to health care providers who respond to declared disaster emergencies, such as the COVID-19 crisis. Quarles & Brady’s Long-Term Care Practice Group has been monitoring guidance from Indiana agencies, including the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), surrounding the Covid-19 Crisis. The ISDH recently issued guidance detailing civil immunity protections under section 34-30-13.5-1 et seq., which became effective during declared disaster emergencies such as COVID-19.

Specifically, section 34-30-13.5-1 et seq. grants civil immunity to all health care providers—facilities and individuals—who provide health care services in response to COVID-19, except for liability stemming from gross negligence or willful misconduct. To qualify for immunity, providers need to have a license to provide health care services, and the services rendered must fall within the provider’s scope of practice during the COVID-19 emergency declaration. Immunity applies to all facility types, so long as it provides health care services by a licensed professional. Providers who do not hold an active license but provide services pursuant to Executive Order 10-13 will also qualify for immunity under this statute. This includes the following individuals:

  • Retired health care professionals
  • Medical students
  • Medical residents
  • Physician assistant students
  • Nursing students
  • Respiratory care practitioner students
  • Out-of-state health care professionals

The ISDH interprets the statute to provide expansive civil immunity as it considers “healthcare services” to include services provided by licensed providers, care related to hospitalization, and any “services or goods furnished for the purpose of preventing, alleviating, curing, or healing human illness, physical disability, or injury.”

We think a number of states will take similar measures to protect healthcare providers. For questions regarding whether civil immunity protections in Indiana or in your state apply to you or your business, please contact your Quarles & Brady attorney or one of the authors.