When the Wrong People are Immune
After a disaster such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be an irresistible desire to blame others. Despite documented failures in the federal government’s response to the pandemic, injured individuals will not be able to hold it accountable due to the broad application of governmental immunity. Congress and state governments have provided targeted immunity to various device manufacturers and emergency volunteers. However, the one group with huge targets on their backs are individual physicians, who are often making impossible choices that are reasonable at the time, but might not appear reasonable to a jury after the fact, and with the bias of hindsight. Recognizing that the potential for liability might cause undue psychological stress on health care providers, this essay argues for statutory immunity that protects them from rationing and other health care decisions that are made in good faith, and that are in compliance with documented state, institutional, or professional pandemic-response guidelines.
Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 8 May, 2020, DOI: 10.1093/jlb/lsaa018