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Exploring The Legality and Delivery of COVID-19 Medical Liability Waivers

COVID-19 medical waiver

We know the COVID-19 pandemic is a tough time for medical professionals as lockdowns are the new norm. As you continue to see clients during this time, temperature checks and COVID-19 medical liability waivers are critical to your risk management plan.

A medical waiver form solution like WaiverForever is perfect for health care service professionals, including:

  • Family Doctors
  • Specialists
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Hospitals
  • Cosmetic Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Physical and Occupational Therapists
  • Psychiatrists and Psychologists
  • Chiropractors
  • Massage Therapists
  • Veterinarians

A medical liability waiver, or release of liability waiver, is a legal agreement where the signer waives the right to sue in the event of ordinary negligence and releases a person or organization from liability for that negligence. In the context of COVID-19, this specialized waiver would include clauses that state the signed is waiving their right to sue in the event they contract COVID-19 and can plausibly trace the infection point back to your office.

It’s always good to be safe and cover your bases in our litigious society. However, the legality of a COVID-19 waiver is yet to be proven. Why? There are not many court cases for us to reply on as precedent yet. 

Furthermore, laws surrounding waivers vary across states and countries worldwide, and a waiver may be void in the face of the public pandemic policy. Regardless, having a patient sign a waiver cannot hurt, and at the very least, you will have your bases covered.

If you plan to utilize a COVID-19 waiver, it must be professionally crafted specifically for your business by a lawyer. It is also essential you mention all of the precautions you are taking at your clinic to keep patients safe while offering the opportunity to rebook in the future, so they are making informed consent.

Asset Protection Lawyer Ike Devji, J.D. has outlined vital considerations for the enforceability of a COVID-19 waiver for doctors in a blog for Physicians Practice:

  1. Was it clear and evident that they were signing a “Covid19 Infection Liability Waiver” and that it “may affect important rights and future legal remedies”? <ake it dummy-proof, and don’t minimize its importance at check-in or pre-screening, etc.
  2. Is the waiver too broad or inclusive, or was it narrowly drafted with language specific to the risk of COVID-19 infection in a public setting? Avoid ‘kitchen-sink’ waivers that throw in too many items.
  3. Did the patient have a meaningful opportunity to review, question and reject the waiver before the clinic started treatment? Did the patient choose, or did they provide informed consent (i.e., emergency services required, etc.)? Consider providing the waiver in advance as part of your pre-screening process.
  4. Evidence of sterilization and safety standard compliance is another vital line of defense. Is your organization able to provide affirmative defenses like the following about the proactive steps you took and the expenses you incurred specifically to prevent infection? 
    • Are you compliant with standards and safety protocols established by local, state and federal law?
    • Are you compliant with industry standards, including any guidelines provided by your specialty medical associations?
    • Do you have a uniformly enforced infection compliance and office safety program in place for sterilization and staff and patient screening that all staff and patients know?

Still, a waiver can only be enforceable in cases of ordinary negligence, which in this context would be catching COVID-19 despite taking every precaution in your power to ensure your clinic is safe. Should you not take those public health precautions, the enforceability of your waiver is at risk.

COVID-19 office risk management considerations

Just like waiver laws, you’re likely already aware of the public health precautions that your clinic must take during the pandemic. Surprisingly, many clinics don’t fully adhere to them. On the other hand, many clinics are going above, and beyond the standard guidelines, so their clients feel extra safe. 

Some of these guidelines include:

  • Asking patients to self-monitor for symptoms and cancel their appointment should they be presenting any symptoms
  • Conducting all consultations and pre-screenings via phone or email, if possible
  • Having all staff wear medical-grade PPE at all times within the clinic
  • All patients wear a face mask or cloth covering at all times when in the clinic unless a procedure requires them to remove the face mask
  • Space out appointments or create a physical distancing strategy so that patients and staff can avoid being within 6-feet of each other as much as possible
  • Take each patient’s temperature upon arrival
  • Have each patient sanitize their hands upon arrival and have multiple sanitization stations set up for use
  • Put up easy to see signage on the front door of your clinic and inside the clinic advising them of risks as well as best practices
  • Disinfect all surfaces of the clinic during intervals between patient appointments

You can read a full COVID-19 guide for healthcare facilities on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

One of the challenges of having patients sign a waiver in this environment is avoiding communal clipboards and pens or tablet devices. Rather than have patients sign the waiver on a shared device or tablet at your clinic, you can use an electronic waiver service like WaiverForever to email it to them 24 hours before their appointment to fill out at home. 

If they aren’t able to do so, you can also set up a QR code in your office to scan, leading them to the waiver on their device to sign, without fear of sanitizing the computer device each time a patient uses it.

The benefits of electronic waiver systems for medical professionals

COVID-19 has upended all of our lives and added a whole layer of complication to running your clinic. Let WaiverForever make your COVID-19 medical waiver signing easy and safe.

Medical professionals love WaiverForever for its ease of use and options for sending waivers to patients – not to mention no more paper waivers to store. Our waiver service works in browsers on both desktop and mobile, and our waiver app for both Android and Apple allows you to set up a waiver signing system in kiosk mode quickly. Waivers are stored securely in the cloud, and our security protocols support legal digital signatures, which we store securely in your signed waiver database. 

We encourage you to learn more about WaiverForever and start your unlimited free trial. No credit card is required. We’ll help you streamline your processes during the pandemic and beyond.