The convergence of the coronavirus, which has recently increased in cases of the coming flu season, could lead to diagnostic errors that will increase claims of medical malpractice, some experts say.
Many initial flu symptoms, including fever, fatigue and sore throat, are almost indistinguishable from COVID-19, they say.
While observers note that the federal government and about 30 states have provided legal immunity for caregivers treating COVID-19 patients, at least some of the protections have an expiration date.
Other factors related to COVID-19 may also affect claims.
Although there have been few COVID-19-related medical malpractice requirements to date, many optional surgeries have been delayed, in some cases because patients fear their susceptibility to the virus if they enter hospital, which may cause a temporary reduction in medical claims. .
Delayed medical examinations leading to undiagnosed or debilitating medical conditions may, however, drive up future medical claims, experts say.
In addition, in an editorial published in Science magazine in June, National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Norman Sharpless estimates that delayed cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment will lead to nearly 1
Influenza and COVID-19 "have similar symptoms" and "if you do not get the right diagnosis", there is a potential responsibility, says Dr. John C. Evanko, Chief Medical Officer for Burlington, Vermont-based medical insurer MCIC Vermont LLC, a mutual risk retention group.
Influenza and COVID-19 "are so similar in their early states as far as signs and symptoms that doctors may miss the diagnosis" and "put the patient at risk for essentially delaying necessary treatment," says Susan Shepherd, director of patient safety and staff training at The Doctors Co., a Napa, California-based medical malpractice insurance company
In addition, COVID-19 can induce and / or mask other diseases, such as acute coronary heart disease and bacterial pneumonia, says Dr. J. Tristan Mueck, Assistant Medical Officer manager, training and warranty, for Roslyn, New York-based EmPRO Insurance Co., in an email.
With this pandemic, "everything takes a little longer, whether it's care or when patients come in for care." , says Divya Parikh, vice president of research and education at Rockville, Maryland-based Medical Professional Liability Association.  "When you add that to the complexity of diagnosing "something that has very similar symptoms to another medical condition, in this case influenza, that raises a lot of concerns," Parikh said.
In addition, some COVID-19 tests are more accurate than others, says Mike Stinson, MPLA's Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy.
While "there is such a flood of goodwill" against the healthcare sector during the pandemic, this is likely to subside and plaintiffs' barriers will become more active, says Kirsten Beasley, Bermuda-based head of healthcare, North America, for Willis Towers Watson PLC.
Although there is not yet a noticeable increase in medical claims, "that does not mean they do not occur," said Joshua Gold, a shareholder in Anderson Kill PC in New York.
The delay between an incident that occurs and a claim reported means that the majority of COVID-19-related medical claims are not expected until 2022, says Doctors Co. Executive Vice President Bob White.
for the latest information on COVID-19, says Michael Maglaras, Ashford, Connecticut-based principal with insurance and risk management consultant Michael Maglaras & Co.
Caregivers should document their protocols for screening, visits and treatments, says Lainie Dorneker, Miami -based president of IronHealth, a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co .. hardening, especially for elderly care risks.Capacity has also decreased, with some insurers ares exiting the market, and insurance companies that had offered $ 25 million in capacity are now putting up $ 15 million or $ 10 million, says John Geisbush, Phoenix-based CEO of Marsh LLCs Healthcare.
COVID-19 has "put further fears in the market" and caused further capacity constraints in some cases, he said.
"It has been a mixed bag," with some insurers taking "a more draconian approach." If the risks they will take, others take a more two-pronged approach and still others act on the basis of agreements, says Martha Jacobs , Pittsburgh-based National Care Supervisor for Aon PLC.