In early March 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, the Governor issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency across the state of Michigan. On April 1, 2020, the Governor expanded the executive order to declare a state of disaster across the state.
The virus has severely disrupted Michigan’s economy, education systems, and healthcare systems. In October 2020, the Pandemic Health Care Immunity Act was passed in the state. This legislation protects health care providers from malpractice claims arising on or after March 29, 2020 and before July 14, 2020. The act states that providers “are not liable for an injury, including death, by an individual unless it is established that the services amount to willful misconduct, gross negligence, intentional and willful criminal misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm”. Health care providers should keep this in mind in the event that a claim is brought against them during this time period.
In late November 2021, Michigan’s Health Department announced that with Covid-19 hospitalization numbers hovering near all-time highs, the federal government will send doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to support the state at the Governor’s request.
It remains to be seen if there will be an increase in claims related to the pandemic, as it can take months to years for patients to realize a medical error has occurred. What research does show, however, is that burnout is a major cause of medical errors., and the U.S. has some of the highest rates of healthcare provider burnout around the world. ‘
With COVID-19 placing an enormous amount of stress on an already maxed-out system, it is recommended that any physician practicing medicine in Michigan during the COVID-19 public health emergency be protected by medical malpractice insurance.