Since the Covid-19 pandemic’s emergence, coronavirus-related negligence cases have appeared, leaving physicians, liability insurers, and malpractice attorneys anxious. Patients have come forth with claims concerning delayed or overlooked Covid-19 diagnoses, delayed treatment or testing, insufficient infectious-disease protocol, and failure to identify medical contraindications for Covid-19 vaccination. According to the CDC, there have been upwards of 45 million coronavirus cases in the US and over 734,000 deaths to date.
Peter Kolbert, senior vice president and chief claims officer at The Doctors Company’s unit Healthcare Risk Advisors, forecasts a significant increase in the number of Covid-related malpractice suits within the next two years, attributing the rise in claims to the public’s eventual numbness to and dismissal of the immense pressures posed to frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic.
A key factor influencing the rise in Covid-related malpractice suits has been the need for limited patient-physician communication due to infection-control protocols, often rendering patients and relatives unable to meet in person with physicians to discuss care and be observed. This, in turn, can leave patients and their loved ones feeling as though they haven’t received the level of care that they need. Another risk for potential lawsuits comes when physicians choose to turn down patients seeking Covid-19 vaccination. Consider a physician who turns away a young, obese patient for the aforementioned reason. Should that patient get sick with Covid-19 a few weeks later, the physician would be at great risk for being sued.