New Jersey has enacted S-2333/A-3910, which affords civil and criminal immunity to certain health care professionals and facilities providing care to patients during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The immunity afforded under the act is effective immediately and is retroactive to March 9, 2020.
Under the bill, health care professionals shall not be liable for civil damages for injury or death allegedly arising from their acts or omissions in the course of providing medical care in support of the state’s medical response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill also affords immunity to health care facilities, including nursing homes, for injuries or death arising from acts or omissions of their agents, officers, employees, servants, representatives, or volunteers if they are health care professionals subject to immunity under the act. Further, the bill explicitly immunizes health care professionals and facilities for good faith efforts to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as the use of telemedicine or telehealth, diagnosing and treating patients outside the normal scope of practice, and the allocation of mechanical ventilators and other scarce medical resources, if the facility adopts and adheres to an acceptable scarce resource allocation policy.
Immunity is not available for acts or omissions constituting a crime, actual fraud, actual malice, gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct. Further, immunity is not afforded to medical care rendered in the ordinary course of medical practice, such as orthopedic procedures, OB/GYN services, and necessary cardiology procedures. The legislature expressly indicated it was not its intent to grant immunity for medical services, treatment, and procedures unrelated to the COVID-19 emergency.
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