During pandemic, limited civil immunity given to Oklahoma healthcare providers, facilities

Outside of a hospital building

On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Governor Stitt issued a third amendment to Executive Order 2020-13 (available here) ordering that for as long as the Legislature concurs with his declared health emergency in Oklahoma any health care provider or health care facility (or alternate care location designated by the state) shall be covered under the Limited Civil Immunity for Rendering Care, Aid, Shelter, or Assistance During a Natural Disaster or Catastrophe statute (76 Okla. Stat. §5.9).

This Limited Civil Immunity statute provides that an individual or business rendering emergency care, aid, shelter or other assistance during a natural disaster or catastrophic event shall not be liable for damages resulting from the rendering of emergency care, aid, shelter or assistance unless the damage was caused by the gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct of the individual or entity rendering the emergency care, aid, shelter or assistance. The statute does not provide immunity from suit, only immunity from damages in a negligence action.

The Executive Order defines health care facility broadly to include any nonfederal institution, whether public or private or for profit or nonprofit, that is used, operated, or designed to provide health services, medical treatment, or nursing, rehabilitative, or preventive care to any person or persons, such as: ambulatory surgery centers, hospitals, intermediate care facilities, kidney dialysis centers, long-term care facilities, mental health centers, outpatient facilities, rehabilitation facilities, residential treatment facilities, skilled nursing facilities, laboratories, and adult daycare centers.

Further, the definition of health care facility applies to the following related property when used for or in connection with the foregoing: laboratories; research facilities; pharmacies; laundry facilities; health personnel training and lodging facilities; patient, guest, and health personnel food service facilities; and offices and office buildings for persons engaged in health care professions or services.

The Executive Order defines health care provider as any person or entity who provides health care services including, but not limited to, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered and other nurses, paramedics, emergency medical or laboratory technicians, and ambulance and emergency medical workers.

Thus, the Executive Order declaration may provide some protection to hospitals and other health care facilities and their physicians, nurses and other professionals who get sued as a result of the care and services provided during the COVID-19 disaster.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your McAfee & Taft Healthcare attorney.