In anticipation of COVID-19 related litigation, Governor Pritzker has elected to use his powers pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act (IEMA) to protect healthcare providers and facilities from civil lawsuits related to care and treatment provided to patients in response to COVID-19. On April 1, 2020, Governor Pritzker signed an Executive Order in Response to COVID-19 (COVID-19 Executive Order No. 17). A copy of the Order is attached.
Beginning on April 1, 2020, and through the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis (“the Gubernational Disaster Proclamation”) which has currently been extended to April 30, 2020, healthcare facilities, healthcare professionals, and healthcare volunteers are immune from civil liability for any injury or death that was allegedly caused by a facility, professional or volunteer during the course of rendering assistance to the State by providing healthcare services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This does not include any claims in which the injury or death was allegedly caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct.
The Order defines “Health Care Professional” as all licensed or certified health care or emergency medical service workers who (i) are providing health care services at a Health Care Facility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and are authorized to do so; or (ii) are working under the direction of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) or Department of Public Health (DPH).
The Order specifically defines “Health Care Facilities” as facilities licensed, certified, or approved by any State agency and covered by 711 Admin Section 1130.215 (a) through (f). This includes the following:
(a) An ambulatory surgical treatment center required to be licensed pursuant to the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act;
(b) An institution, place, building, or agency required to be licensed pursuant to the Hospital Licensing Act;
(c) Skilled and intermediate long-term care facilities licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act;
(d) Skilled and intermediate-care facilities licensed under the ID/DD Community Care Act or the MC/DD Act;
(e) Facilities licensed under the Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Act of 2013; and
(f) Hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory surgical treatment centers, or kidney disease treatment centers maintained by the State or any department or agency thereof.
Additional healthcare facilities and organizations that are subject to the Act and the rules include:
(i) State-operated Developmental Centers certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and licensed State-operated Mental Health Centers created pursuant to the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Administrative Act;
(ii) Licensed community-integrated living arrangements as defined by the Community-Integrated Living Arrangements Licensing and Certification Act;
(iii) Licensed Community Mental Health Centers as defined in the Community Services Act;
(iv) Federally qualified health centers under the Social Security Act; and
(v) Any government-operated site providing health care services established for the purposes of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The purpose of the Order is to protect healthcare providers and facilities from looming threats of litigation in their response to this unprecedented health crisis. Please note that the Order is effective April 1, 2020, and does not appear to be retroactive at this time. This means that the order does not apply to any claims related to handling of the COVID-19 crisis prior to April 1, 2020. We are hopeful that the Order will be extended beyond April 30, 2020.
If you have any questions about this Order, or how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting your institution or practice, please contact CMV Law.