A No-Win Situation For Health Care: The Perils Facing Hospitals Due To The Coronavirus

 Friday, June 19, 2020

 CLM Magazine

The coronavirus is forever changing the landscape in which medical care is being delivered in this nation. The surge of patients streaming into emergency departments across this country is such that hospitals simply cannot keep up.

Patients are waiting in lines outside facilities to be examined, and hospitals are erecting temporary triage areas, emergency rooms, and intensive care units to deal with the influx of the critically ill.

While many recognize the difficult circumstances health care institutions are confronting and the sacrifices being made by medical professionals during this crisis, those same hospitals and professionals may face another crisis once the coronavirus spread abates: a rise of medical malpractice claims.

Due to the unprecedented numbers of patients needed to be seen on an emergency basis, hospitals have had to delay elective and non-emergent surgeries in order to preserve facility flexibility and to ensure appropriate staffing.

Patients with slow-growing cancers are being advised that surgery will be delayed from four to six weeks or perhaps longer until the current surge of patients subsides. While it is hoped that these calculated delays will not affect a patient’s outcome, it is not difficult to imagine that the unexpected metastasis of a tumor or the untimely death of a patient will be the subject of a medical-malpractice claim.