Can Pharmacies Be Held Liable for Malpractice During the Pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic has completely upended the normal course of business, and that shift in how businesses proceed is an even more present consideration for medical businesses. While the illness spreads rapidly and with little recourse for treatment, those experiencing mild symptoms may be heading to the pharmacy looking for some form of relief. Patients who have ongoing prescriptions may also be wondering whether it’s safe to pick up their prescriptions as normal.
Throughout all of these concerns, many are asking themselves whether pharmacies can be held accountable for prescriptions made during the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, recent government bills the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, do specifically address some of these concerns. Designed to assuage any hesitation on the part of medical providers trying to provide care, the CARES Act does have implications for both malpractice lawyers and patients who have suffered at the hands of pharmacies. Unfortunately, under these new laws, it may become more difficult to make a malpractice claim against a pharmacy.
Provider Liability Under the CARES Act
Section 3215 of the CARES Act specifically limits liability for “volunteer” health care providers during the pandemic. A volunteer health care provider would be one that has remained open to service patients in need despite the ongoing pandemic, and these health care providers can include both physicians and pharmacies. Under this provision, providers will not be considered liable under either federal or state law for any harm caused by an act or omission of the professional in the provision of health care services.
The law does not, however, allow providers to get away with downright negligence. Providers will not be protected from liability if they act willfully or intentionally negligent, which would include gross criminal misconduct, recklessness, or flagrant indifference to a patient’s harm from a certain treatment or prescription.
Does The CARES Act Cover Pharmacists?
The Act does, in fact, empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to declare that a ‘covered’ provider under this law includes a qualified person who prescribes, administers, or dispenses “pandemic countermeasures,” and that said individual will not be held liable from any resulting injury or loss that occurs from this prescription. Countermeasures under this Act would include any FDA-approved drugs, devices, or biological products that are manufactured, used, designed, developed, modified, licensed, or procured to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure a pandemic’s harm. This means that, if your pharmacist makes a mistake and incorrectly prescribes a certain type of treatment, you may not be able to hold them liable for such malpractice.
Again, however, it is worth noting that providers who willfully act with gross negligence won’t be exempt from liability. For example, if a pharmacist advertises that they have an effective coronavirus test, and have knowledge that the test in fact has a very high rate of missed diagnoses, and the patient proceeds to contract Covid-19, then the pharmacist would likely be held liable for their gross negligence in administering a test they knew did not work.
If You Were The Victim Of Malpractice, Contact A Personal Injury Attorney!
The Florida Law Group’s malpractice lawyers have over 100 years of collective experience helping negligence victims fight for justice. When someone else’s negligence led to your illness or injury, our attorneys can help you understand your legal options and reveal the full value of your case. We can connect you with quality medical care so you can heal and we never let you settle for less than the full amount you deserve; we stand up to intimidating insurance companies and advocate for maximum compensation every time! The Florida Law Group proudly serves clients in the Greater Tampa Bay Area, Miami, and Orlando on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not have to pay us anything unless we win your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!