What liability protections exist for hospitals and other healthcare providers during a disaster?
Several statutes provide qualified immunity to persons rendering
aid and healthcare facilities providing care during an emergency
and address the need to provide liability protection to
healthcare providers during an emergency. (Pages 110-114 of the
California Department of Public Health Standards and Guidelines
for Healthcare Surge During Emergencies Volume I: Hospitals is
available for download below.
A summary of these statues is below.
California Civil Code Section 1714.5: Provides
immunity from liability for disaster service workers as well as
an owner or operator including a public agency that owns or
maintains any building or premises which is used as a mass care
center, first-aid station, temporary hospital annex or other
necessary facility for mitigating the effects of an emergency.
California Health and Safety Code Section 1317:
Provides immunity from liability for upon the health facility,
the officers, members of the staff, nurses, or employees of the
health facility who may be at risk for loss of life.
California Emergency Services Act, Government Code
Section 8659: Any physician or surgeon (whether licensed
in this state or any other state), hospital, pharmacist, nurse or
dentist who renders services during a state of war emergency, a
state of emergency or local emergency at the express or implied
request of any responsible state or local official or agency
shall have no liability for any injury sustained by any person by
reason of such services, regardless of how or under what
circumstances or by what cause such injuries are sustained;
California Business and Professions Code Section
1627.5: Same as above for dentists.
California Business and Professions Code Section 2395;
California Business and Professions Code Section 2727.5;
California Business and Professions Code Section 2861.5;
California Business and Professions Code Section 3503.5:
No licensee (physician, registered nurse, licensed vocational
nurse or physicians’ assistant) who in good faith renders
emergency care at the scene of an emergency or during a medical
disaster, shall be liable for any civil damages as a result of
any acts or omissions by such person in rendering the emergency
Government Code Section 178, Article 5: This
section addresses the liability of health professionals providing
service outside the state by which they are licensed.