Limited Civil Immunity – Pennsylvania American College of Physicians


PA-ACP has strongly urged Governor Wolf to take executive action – or support legislation – to provide limited good Samaritan civil liability immunity to Pennsylvania’s health care practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter Wednesday, sent on behalf of the Chapter, President Larry Ward, MD, FACP thanked the Governor for his ongoing support of Pennsylvania’s health care providers as they respond to the pandemic. But he said physicians and other licensed health care providers need additional support as they put their own lives at risk for patient care.

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have enacted executive orders to support the health care community granting limited civil immunity for patient care during the crisis. 

In line with ACP policy, the request was for those who provide medical services in support of the State’s response to COVID-19 and act reasonably and with good faith in record keeping. This civil immunity should not extend to protocols that discriminate against classes or categories of patients nor immunity from, for example, criminal or reckless misconduct, gross negligence, or intentional infliction of harm.

PA-ACP told the Governor that clinicians in hospitals and their practices must be able to fully direct their attention to treating patients and bringing the crisis under control.  Ward said, “Pandemics dictate rapid decision-making.  Appropriate liability protections must exist to foster what’s needed and what is best for our patients now.”

Pennsylvania law already extends good Samaritan civil immunity in the event of an emergency.  PA-ACP argues that the COVID-19 pandemic and our response should qualify as such. 

Ward said, “The nation is thanking our health care community for its dedication, service and unselfishness in the face of a worldwide pandemic.  Pennsylvania should thank our health care practitioners by providing them with the legal protections they deserve.”