BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is pushing for legislation that would protect facilities and healthcare workers who are treating coronavirus patients from lawsuits.
Baker made the announcement during a Wednesday press conference.
“The legislation would protect health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and EMTs, as well as healthcare facilities, from liability and lawsuits when the care they provide is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency,” Baker said. “We’re in unprecedented times, when our providers may be forced to make difficult choices, and we’re asking them to operate in conditions that they’ve never planned for.”
Baker said models are showing that a surge of coronavirus cases is still expected in Massachusetts sometime between April 10-20.
“We need to make sure that fear of getting sued doesn’t prevent them from being able to do what they need to do to treat as many people as possible,” Baker said.
Massachusetts is also preparing for the possibility that the virus will hit “too many people in too short a period of time,” Baker said.
The Department of Public Health has developed guidelines in conjunction with hospitals and ethics experts to ensure that a patient’s background, social standing or disability is not considered if providers have to make a tough choice about who gets treatment.
“We’re in a period where hospitals might have to make difficult decisions about how to distribute resources like ventilators, but that’s the worst case scenario, and we must plan for it,” said Baker.
“We have a moral obligation to ensure that there are transparent and ethical guidelines available to our medical professionals if they have to make these excruciating decisions.”