New York Executive Order Grants Immunity to Healthcare Providers Responding to COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 23, 2020, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued Executive Order (EO) 202.10. In response to the New York State disaster emergency, declared on March 7, 2020, and the continued spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), EO 202.10 suspended or modified certain state statutes, rules and regulations to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

Significantly, the EO modified or suspended applicable sections of the New York Education Law “to the extent necessary to provide that all physicians, physician assistants, specialist assistants, nurse practitioners, licensed registered professional nurses and licensed practical nurses shall be immune from civil liability for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained . . . in the course of providing medical services in support of the State’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.” [Emphasis Added]. This EO, and the modifications/suspensions to applicable laws and regulations, is effective from March 23, 2020 through April 22, 2020.

EO 202.10 removes obstacles to medical treatment in the unique circumstances posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and ensures the healthcare providers specified above may work and/or volunteer as necessary to treat patients and combat the COVID-19 epidemic without fear of civil liability. However, note that this immunity from civil liability does not extend to injuries or deaths caused by a medical provider’s gross negligence.

Additionally, EO 202.10 suspends or modifies the New York Education Law and applicable regulations to the extent necessary to ensure that healthcare providers are relieved from recordkeeping requirements to the extent necessary to perform tasks in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes, but is not limited to, requirements to:

  • maintain medical records accurately reflecting the evaluation and treatment of patients;
  • assign diagnostic codes; and
  • create or maintain other records for billing purposes.

EO 202.10 specifies that so long as healthcare providers act reasonably and in good faith under this provision, they are granted absolute immunity from liability for any failure to comply with any recordkeeping requirement.

For more information regarding immunity to New York healthcare providers responding to COVID-19 and Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order, please contact Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq., Adrienne Dresevic, Esq., or Abby Pendleton, Esq. at (212) 734-0128 or by email at ckalmowitz@thehlp.com, adresevic@thehlp.com, and apendleton@thehlp.com.