Massachusetts Legislature Passes Legal Protections for Health Care Workers and Facilities
BOSTON, APR. 17, 2020 – On April 17, State Representative Bill Driscoll, Jr. (D – Milton) along with his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and State Senate passed legislation to shield those providing critical health care services from legal liability for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
"Our action today will protect our health care workers and health care facilities during this time of crisis as they work to care for an unprecedented number of patients,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “This legislation will give our health care providers a sense of relief as they heroically treat the residents of the Commonwealth. I appreciate the leadership of Senate President Spilka as well as the work of Chairs Michlewitz and Murphy to bring these issues forward.”
“This necessary legislation will provide much needed liability relief for our health care workers and facilities so they can continue to focus on combating the COVID-19 public health crisis," said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D – Boston).
“During this time, we must do all that we can to protect front line workers,” said Representative James Murphy (D – Weymouth), Chair of the Financial Services Committee. “This legislation will go a long way to ensure that our health care professionals who are thrust into this worldwide pandemic are afforded vital legal protections enabling them to do their job in an extremely trying health care environment. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of them and I know together we will get through this.”
“Our health care professionals are on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients while operating under extraordinarily difficult and strenuous conditions,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R – North Reading). “Protecting these essential workers from the threat of lawsuits and civil liability will help make their jobs a little easier, while sending a strong message to the health care community that we fully support their continuing efforts to keep us all safe and healthy.”
Under the legislation, health care professionals, facilities and volunteer organizations assisting in the state’s efforts to respond and treat COVID-19 would be protected from suit and civil liability for alleged damages related to the virus. Health care facilities and professionals would still be subject to consumer complaints brought by the Attorney General and protections would not extend to acts of negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm or acts of discrimination. These protections would apply retroactively to March 10, 2020, and remain in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency.
The bill, which is the latest action by the Legislature to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its effects on Massachusetts, has been signed by the Governor.