Governor Issues Executive Order on COVID-19 Related Healthcare Provider Immunity
By Caitlin D. Kennedy
LITTLE ROCK - Governor Asa Hutchinson issued three Executive Orders on Monday, June 15, 2020, in response to the public health crisis posed by COVID-19. Below is a summary of Executive Order 20-34.
Pursuant to the Arkansas Emergency Services Act of 1973, the Executive Order authorizes all healthcare providers to provide healthcare services directed at the treatment and mitigation of symptoms of COVID-19 in response to the pandemic and during the declared emergency.
The Executive Order authorizes all healthcare providers who are licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized by law to administer health care in this State, to provide healthcare services in their normal course of business or operation, for the purpose of diagnosing, treating, mitigating, or curing COVID-19 or any complication, and to use any drug, device, or product approved or cleared under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 301- 392) ("FD&C Act"); licensed under the Public Health Service Act (42U.S.C. §§ 201-291n); or authorized for emergency use under an Investigational Device Exemption or Investigational Drug Application of the FD&C Act.
The Order requests healthcare providers to perform services directed at the prevention, treatment, mitigation, or cure of COVID-19, and to perform other Emergency Management Functions within the scope of their licensure. Emergency Management Functions include: triage, diagnostic testing, and/or treatment to individuals with known or suspected COVID-19; cancelling, postponing, or denying elective procedures; redeploying or cross-training staff not typically assigned to such duties, to the extent necessary to respond to the COVID-19 health emergency; planning to or enacting crisis standards of care measures, such as modifying numbers of beds, preserving personal protective equipment, and triaging access to services or equipment; and reducing recordkeeping requirements to the extent necessary for healthcare providers to perform tasks as may be necessary to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Executive Order provides immunity from liability for any death, injury, or property damage alleged to have been sustained as a result of any act or omission by a healthcare provider in the course of providing COVID-19 related emergency management functions during this public health emergency. Immunity does not extend to an act or omission that is willful, reckless, or intentional misconduct.