Nursing Home Execs May Lose COVID-19 Liability Protections

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Earlier this week, Democratic New York Assemblyman Ron Kim introduced legislation that would unravel legal protections recently afforded nursing home executives and administrators in his state.

The Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, enacted in April after a March executive order, provided broad legal protections for healthcare providers and facilities in New York for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the law still allows claims based on the legal definitions of willful, reckless or criminal misconduct or gross negligence, it makes clear that “bad decisions stemming from staffing shortages or a lack of resources can’t be considered to be in that category,” according to a Law360 report.

The “gross negligence” liability standard set too high a bar for nursing homes, effectively enabling “zero accountability” in standard negligence cases, Kim told Law360.

“In reality, the overwhelming third party claims are against facilities, not individuals,” Kim said in a statement. Kim also alleged that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was deceived by nursing home executives who portrayed the legal immunities as protective of front line employees in order to insulate themselves during the pandemic.

Kim is not alone regarding the need for nursing home higher-ups to be held accountable.

“The civil immunity protections give nursing home “operators a license to neglect and abuse already vulnerable populations,” Assemblyman Dan Quart, a cosponsor of the bill, said in a statement.”

“Civil lawsuits are one of the few tools available to patients and families who want to hold nursing homes accountable for substandard care,” Quart said in a statement, as reported by Law360. “A lack of transparency and accountability, especially in a time of a pandemic, would put residents at enormous risk.”

Originally published May 21, 2020

By James Parker

James Parker is a news writer and fact-checker from Coral Springs, Florida. He majored in Communication and Media Studies at Stetson University, where he spent much of his time examining the role of optics in various fields. When not covering the latest medical or legal development, James works on personal writing projects and board game design.

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