During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, states are considering granting immunity to health care workers for their actions in treating COVID-19 patients. While states like Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Michigan granted certain liability protections via statute or executive order in April, Pennsylvania was not as quick to act.

On May 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an extensive Executive Order that, among other things, granted health care practitioners with immunity from civil liability for their good faith actions taken in the provision of medical and health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By declaring them “agents of the Commonwealth,” the Executive Order immunizes licensed health care professionals who provide COVID-19 medical and health treatment or services during and related to the disaster emergency response within the following types of facilities:

  • health care facilities as defined by the Health Care Facilities Act, 35 P.S. § 448.802a;
  • any nursing facility;
  • personal care homes as defined in 55 Pa. Code § 2600.4;
  • assisted living facilities as defined by 55 Pa. Code § 2800.4;
  • alternate care sites;
  • community-based testing sites; and
  • non-congregate care facilities used to conduct emergency services activities or the provision of disaster services activities related to the COVID-19 disaster emergency response

However, the immunity granted by the Executive Order only extends to the individual health care practitioners. It does not extend to the facilities themselves or the owners thereof.

The immunity granted to health care professionals also does not cover claims of criminal conduct, gross negligence, fraud, malice or willful misconduct. Nor does it apply to health care professionals rendering medical and health treatment or services to individuals that is not related to COVID-19.

The Executive Order also relaxes a number of state regulations that would otherwise prevent out-of-state, retired or otherwise qualified health practitioners from providing services within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

For more information, nursing homes and licensed professionals may contact our Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware defense team:

Link to Text of Governor Wolf’s Executive Order: