Nearly every day now I receive questions related to COVID-19 exposure situations; Potential exposure from a family member of a doctor’s full-time nanny. Patients calling the office to report positive test results just days after presenting. Physicians and staff members testing positive causing temporary office closures. The list goes on and on and it’s not getting any shorter. Statistically, if you haven’t experienced potential or actual exposure in your practice, at some point you will. What happens then?
Previously I sent an e-blast including CDC COVID Report forms and State by State Contact Information for Exposure (attached again here). I have advised many doctors who have experienced an exposure situation to contact their local Board of Health as well as the State Health Department (as guidelines for triaging/what is considered an elevated temperature and post-exposure protocols vary from state to state and county to county).
More recently the question that has arisen relates to patients signing an “Attestation to be treated during COVID times” as a means of protecting the doctor and practice in the event that a patient tests positive after a visit to the office (a sample is available on the PICA website). In response, I reached out to a healthcare attorney in my home state of Massachusetts to see what he had to say. . . Here is his response.
“To answer the question, given the state of the country and the fact that waivers like this are being used across industries, it certainly cannot hurt to attempt to protect providers from liability. That being said, legal advice can’t be this broad or generalized. For an individual practitioner to determine whether such a disclaimer or waiver is necessary for his or her practice he or she should consult a lawyer and be prepared to provide more detailed facts about his or her goals and specific liability concerns. So, in sum, on its face this seems like a good idea.”
Although not a somewhat broad answer, I believe it is something providers should consider and above all else, please remain diligent in your efforts to protect yourself, your staff and your patients and report exposure right away.
Here’s a sample document Patient Acknowledgement to Receive Treatment During COVID-19 (from PICA)