Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure that extends current COVID-19 liability protections through Jun. 1, 2023.
SB 7014, originally filed by a judiciary committee on Nov. 30th of last year, looks to extend the duration of liability protections from COVID-19-related claims against health care providers and passed the full Senate by a 22-13 vote. Medical institutions can still be faced with COVID-19 lawsuits, but the bill requires a higher standard of proof for plaintiffs. Those seeking legal action will need to prove that the health care provider was clearly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct.
“The liability protections require a plaintiff to: satisfy heightened pleading requirements of alleging facts in sufficient detail to support each element of his or her claim, prove by the greater weight of the evidence that the health care provider was grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct, and overcome any affirmative defense,” the bill analysis and fiscal impact statement declared.
Democrat lawmakers largely opposed the measure, arguing it could give cover to medical providers offering poor and misguided care, but healthcare associations and business groups have commended the move.
“Thank you [Florida Legisature] for passing COVID-19 liability measure and [Governor Ron DeSantis] for protecting physicians, and health care providers by signing SB 7014. Our 25,000 plus members are dedicated to protecting patients, and as Florida’s voice of medicine, we thank you for your leadership,” said the Florida Medical Association.
Re: SB 7014
"Today the Legislature took the important step of reinforcing healthcare providers with additional protections. Thank you to the House and Senate for continuing to protect our healthcare industry." – Dominic Calabro, President & CEO FTW@WiltonSimpson @ChrisSprowls
— Florida TaxWatch (@FloridaTaxWatch) February 10, 2022
DeSantis, alongside newly-confirmed State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, announced significant changes to Florida’s COVID-19 guidance on Thursday evening, including pushing back on “unscientific corporate masking,” reducing isolation for all Floridians including those in schools and daycares, and recommending that physicians should exercise their “individual clinical judgement and expertise based on their patients’ needs and preferences.”
“People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children,” said DeSantis. “We are empowering health care practitioners to follow science, not Fauci’s status quo.”