By Lisa English Hinkle
During the COVID-19 crisis, there is still good news to be found for healthcare providers. On March 30th, Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 150, a broad coronavirus response measure that touches on everything from licensing fees to alcohol sales. Tucked into the bill is a provision that limits the liability of healthcare providers who treat COVID-19 patients in good faith.
The relevant language is in Section 1(5)(b): “A healthcare provider who in good faith renders care or treatment of a COVID-19 patient during the state of emergency shall have a defense to civil liability for ordinary negligence for any personal injury resulting from said care or treatment, or from any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment, if the healthcare provider acts as an ordinary, reasonable, and prudent healthcare provider would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.”
The new law also provides a defense for prescribing or dispensing medication for off-label uses for the purposes of treating COVID-19, for providing services outside of that provider’s scope of practice, or for using supplies and equipment outside of their normal use.
Additionally, the law waives requirements of in-person examination for establishing a provider-patient relationship for the purposes of providing telehealth (to the extent this complies with federal law).
It also gives the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, and the Board of Nursing the ability to waive or modify state statutes and regulations:
- For licensure or certification requirements for healthcare providers who are licensed or certified in other states to provide services in Kentucky.
- To relax the scope of practice requirements to allow healthcare providers to practice in all settings of care.
- To allow physicians to supervise a greater number of other healthcare providers and to do so using remote or telephonic means.
- To allow for rapid certification or licensure and recertification or relicensure of healthcare providers.
- To allow medical students to conduct triage, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of licensed healthcare providers.
- For standards that are not necessary for the applicable standards of care to establish a patient-provider relationship, diagnose, and deliver treatment recommendations utilizing telehealth technologies.
- To reactivate the licenses of inactive and retired healthcare providers, including emergency medical providers and nurses, to allow them to re-enter the healthcare workforce.”
- These provisions should provide healthcare entities with some of the resources they will need to scale up their workforce to meet the escalating threat of COVID-19.
-Lisa English Hinkle is with McBrayer in Lexington, Ky.