Legal Implications of Personal Protective Equipment Use When Treating Patients for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)
Danuta Mendelson, Michael Keane, Mirko Bagaric, at al, "Legal Implications of Personal Protective Equipment Use When Treating Patients for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)" (2020) 28 Journal of Law and Medicine
8 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 11, 2020
Front-line health care personnel, including anaesthetists, otolaryngologists, and other health professionals dealing with acute cases of coronavirus, face a high risk of infection and thus mortality. The scientific evidence establishes that to protect them, hospital protocols should require that wearing of the highest levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) be available for doctors and nurses performing aerosol-generating procedures, such as intubation, sputum induction, open suctioning of airways, bronchoscopy, etc. of COVID-19 patients. Although several international bodies have issued recommendations for a very high-level PPE to be used when these procedures are undertaken, the current PPE guidelines in Australia have tended to be more relaxed, and hospital authorities relying on them might not comply with legal obligations to their employee health care workers. Failure to provide high-level PPE in many hospitals is of concern for a large number of health care workers; this article examines the scientific literature on the topic and provides a legal perspective on hospital authorities’ possible liability in negligence.
Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE); front-line health personnel, duty of care, standard of care, employer liability
JEL Classification: I18, K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation