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(AUSTIN, Texas – May 8, 2019) Texas lawmakers removed barriers limiting health care professionals from volunteering their skills and expertise in the event of a disaster.
The Texas Hospital Association advocated strongly for passage of Senate Bill 752, which would provide liability protection for volunteer health care professionals and the facilities that sponsor the care during a disaster. The legislation, by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), also was backed by the Texas Medical Association.
“Ensuring timely access to quality health care for all Texans, regardless of location or circumstance is a priority for all Texas hospitals,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Passage of SB 752 enables licensed health care professionals in good standing to volunteer their expertise when it is needed most.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, volunteer health care professionals from around the nation rushed to provide assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that more than 5,300 Texans needed health care services during rescue and recovery efforts. Despite this, many health care professionals who were not affiliated with nonprofit organizations ultimately chose not to volunteer for fear for potential liability.
Existing laws limit liability for volunteer health care professionals who are affiliated with nonprofit organizations and for facilities with nonprofit status. SB 752 extends needed liability protections—unless there is reckless conduct or intentional, willful, or wanton misconduct—for volunteer health care professionals who are not affiliated with established nonprofit organizations, particularly those who practice out of state; facilities that do not hold nonprofit status; health care professionals volunteering in conditions where it is unsuitable to utilize a consent form.
“Protecting volunteer health care professionals and facilities from liability will mirror the standard that currently applies in emergency departments statewide,” said Shaw. “Texas hospitals applaud Sen. Huffman and Rep. Oliverson for passing this important legislation.”
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 400,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.