The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has long educated and advocated on the importance of disaster preparedness and urged its members to respond to these events, has released a new policy statement, "Understanding Liability Risks and Protections for Pediatric Providers During Disasters," to be published in the March 2019 Pediatrics.
The policy statement and a technical report carrying the same title, recognize the unique professional liability risks that can occur when caring for patients and families during a disaster, whether acting as volunteers or employees. Natural or manmade disasters such as a hurricane, infectious disease outbreak or terrorism attack may result in perilous conditions, such as working with less staff or space, electricity or equipment.
The AAP recommends that pediatric leaders continue to promote the importance of preparedness for disasters at the federal, state and local levels to ensure that children's needs are adequately addressed and maximize medical liability protection for healthcare responders. Pediatricians should review the status of current disaster liability-related laws applicable at the federal and state level and take steps to minimize gaps in protection.
The AAP recommends that pediatric providers strive to understand their own liability risks, protections and limitations during disasters and develop a disaster readiness plan in order to be poised to respond when disaster strikes.
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