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Protections Against Predatory Lawsuits, Legislation Introduced

Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), introduced legislation this week to provide protections to health care practitioners and facilities from predatory lawsuits during the COVID-19 response. The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) supported bill, Senate Bill 1239, was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“A novel coronavirus means that the health care community is learning something new every day about how the virus presents and how patients react to it,” said Andy Carter, HAP’s President and CEO. “While patients should not be denied access to the courts, Senator Baker’s legislation recognizes that decisions made by our health care providers to keep Pennsylvanians safe and healthy during an unprecedented time should not be exploited by trial lawyers.”

The legislation protects a health care provider from civil actions relating to treatment or testing provided to COVID-19 patients during Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration, absent a showing of gross negligence, recklessness, willful misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm. The legislation also provides protection for actions or omissions caused by lack of equipment or supplies beyond the control of a provider and by complying with COVID-19 treatment or testing guidelines, among other factors.

In addition, the bill also protects those manufacturing and distributing personal protective equipment and provides protection for exposure claims on premises.

Along with a coalition of providers, HAP has expressed the need for additional protections before Governor Wolf and the General Assembly and continues to support efforts at the federal level.

For more information, contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration.


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