Texas Hospitals Applaud Efforts to Expand Liability Protections for Volunteer Health Care Providers
(AUSTIN, Texas – May 22, 2019) After unanimously passing both the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) this week signed into law legislation to ensure Texans’ timely access to essential health care services during a natural or manmade disaster. Supported by the Texas Hospital Association and Texas Medical Association, Senate Bill 752, by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), provides liability protections to volunteer health care professionals and the facilities that sponsor the care or assistance during a disaster, unless there is reckless conduct or intentional, willful or wanton misconduct.
“THA applauds Gov. Abbott for signing into law legislation to encourage licensed health care professionals in good standing to volunteer their expertise to ensure timely access to care during disasters, such as a hurricane or terrorist attack,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Ensuring timely access to quality health care for all Texans, regardless of location or circumstance, is a priority for all Texas hospitals.”
State law previously limited liability for volunteer health care professionals who are affiliated with nonprofit organizations and for facilities with nonprofit status. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, volunteer health care professionals from around the nation rushed to help; however, many providers who were not affiliated with nonprofit organizations ultimately chose not to volunteer for fear of potential liability. SB 752 expands liability protections for volunteer professionals and facilities, regardless of their tax status, to ensure more Texans can access needed medical care when a disaster strikes.
“Texas law should encourage health care providers to volunteer to provide care with no expectation of compensation, regardless of where that care takes place,” said Shaw. “Sen. Huffman and Rep. Oliverson are to be praised for their leadership to pass SB 752 to ensure volunteer liability protections mirror the standard that currently applies in emergency departments statewide.”