COVID-19 Exposure in Your Office. Is it Covered by Malpractice Insurance?

Optometrists are essential healthcare workers that continue to provide eye care to patients even during critical times. They need to keep the health and safety of their staff and patients as a top priority and take extra precautions that are in accordance with the CDC’s patient care guidance.

Many states have their own guidelines for lockdown. Optometrists should be only providing emergency care at this time according to some states.

This article discusses what you need to know about optometrist malpractice insurance during the COVID-19 outbreak and what options they might have.

If you’ve decided to keep your clinic open during COVID-19, you need to follow the guidelines provided by the CDC down to a T to make sure your insurance policy can cover any claims of coronavirus exposure in your office. Contact your malpractice insurance and business liability insurance to see what guidance they might have.

The CARES Act provides some liability protections to medical professionals that are working with COVID patients. Some states like NJ, IL and NY have issued executive orders to limit the liability during this pandemic.

You must remember that just because an individual has contacted coronavirus in your clinic doesn’t mean your office failed to take necessary precautions to meet the standard of care. Depending on which state the office is located the doctors would have to review to see if the pandemic is covered under their liability coverage. Currently most companies exclude this type of coverage but we are hearing the government is looking to pass a bill so they give some coverage in these cases.

Let’s take a look at some steps you should follow to keep your office safe in such cases:

1. The first and most important thing you need to do is establish a thorough cleaning routine for all the areas of your office. These include the restrooms, waiting room, and reception area.

2. Don’t let staff members who are sick or have been exposed to someone who’s sick to come into the office. Staff members must be wear protective gear and change between patients. All equipment must be disinfected in between patients

3. Get in touch with all the patients that have scheduled for an appointment and spread them out to reduce gatherings in the office. Also screen these patients over the phone by asking them the following questions:

· Do they or their family members have flu-like symptoms? These include tiredness, fever, coughing, aches, nasal congestion or runny nose, and diarrhea or vomiting.

· Have they been exposed to someone who potentially had the virus?

4. It’s also advisable to ask high-risk patients to delay if it’s possible. High-risk patients include people who:

· Are over the age of 60.

· Are diabetic ,have HTN, or heart disease.

· Are immune-compromised.

· Have respiratory conditions like asthma.

Bottom Line

Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to keep the health and safety of their staff members and patients as a priority and make sure that proper patient care guidelines and requirements are being strictly observed in their offices. Malpractice relates to negligence and not practicing the standard of care within your state. The government continues to update the laws during this pandemic. If you are concerned then contact your lawyer and business insurance for more information about liability with COVID19. Follow state guidelines on business closures.

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