According to a news report, earlier this month, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to provide health care facilities and providers with sovereign immunity for lawsuits related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The request asked the Governor to provide them with civil and criminal protection for any claim for damages related to their act or omission while providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 crisis. Further, the letter included a request for immunity for these entities and professionals if they are arranging or providing health care services.
Florida code defines health care facilities as agencies that are authorized to provide health care services, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes. The code also includes any site that provides health care services related to the COVID-19 outbreak. FHCA’s proposal does not include claims that are the result of any willful or intentional criminal or reckless misconduct, gross negligence, or intentional infliction of harm. However, it does request protection from acts and omissions related to staff or resource shortages.
Florida has the highest percentage of older adults in the country and almost 700 licensed nursing homes. Research suggests that those older adults that live in long-term supportive housing and nursing homes are at risk for abuse and neglect. Although many variables make the rate challenging to quantify, studies suggest that at least 1 in 10 residents over the age of 60 have suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home. Additionally, about 20 percent of Florida COVID-19 deaths are residents of nursing home facilities.