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Illinois Governor Signs Executive Order Providing Civil Immunity to Healthcare Providers for COVID-1

On April 1, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed an Executive Order granting "health care providers" under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act immunity from civil liability for any injury or death that occurs while they provide health care services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, unless the provider acts in a grossly negligent manner or engages in willful misconduct.

The Executive Order covers hospitals, skilled and intermediate care nursing facilities under the Nursing Home Care Act, skilled and intermediate facilities under the ID/DD Community Care Act, skilled mental health rehabilitation facilities, kidney disease treatment centers, emergency medical service providers, outpatient surgery centers, and institutions that provide major medical diagnostic equipment, among others.

The executive order also covers employees and volunteer workers at such health care facilities.

We are in unprecedent times, and the interpretation and scope of this Order is certain to be challenged, with ultimately courts deciding to what extent the immunity applies.

The interpretation of the Act most favorable to the healthcare profession is that the intent of the executive order is that health care providers and employees have immunity from civil liability in treating COVID-19 patients and residents, and from such liability if other patients or residents contract COVID-19, as long as the health care facility and its employees were not grossly negligent or did not engage in willful misconduct.

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