To increase the number of health care professionals treating COVID-19 patients, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-30. The order, signed on March 29, 2020, grants hospitals and other health care facilities greater flexibility in how they use staff and students to treat patients with the coronavirus.
The mandate modifies or lifts restrictions previously limiting doctors, medical students, and other healthcare providers, hoping these people will join the frontline to fight the coronavirus pandemic. By removing barriers to practice, the order also expands employment rights and reduces liability.
Here is a summary of the most notable provisions.
Scope of Practice, Supervision, and Delegation Suspension
All provisions relating to scope of practice, supervision, and delegation are temporarily suspended with respect to health care services provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, appropriate to the professional’s education, training, and experience as follows:
- No criminal, civil, or administrative penalties will be imposed relating to lack of supervision by a licensed physician or lack of a written practice agreement with a physician;
- Physician assistants may practice as it relates to the professional’s education, training, and experience without a written physician practice agreement;
- Advanced practice registered nurses, including nurse anesthetists, may practice appropriate to the professional’s education, training, and experience without physician supervision;
- Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses may order the collection of throat or nasopharyngeal swab specimens from individuals for COVID-19 testing;
- Licensed practical nurses may provide medical services appropriate to the professional’s education, training, and experience without registered nurse supervision; and
- Licensed pharmacists may provide care for routine health maintenance, chronic disease states, or similar conditions, as appropriate to the professional’s education, training, and experience without physician supervision.
The Use of Students, Medical Students, Physical Therapists, and Emergency Medical Technicians
Health care facilities may allow students to participate in the COVID-19 response in the following manner:
- Students enrolled in a health care professional program may assist in the COVID-19 response as appropriate to the student’s education, training, and experience based on the discretion of the facility’s medical leadership; and
- Medical students, PTs, and EMTs may assist as “respiratory therapist extenders” under the supervision of physicians, respiratory therapists, or advanced practice registered nurses.
- These individuals may also participate in providing any other services that are needed to support the response to COVID-19 as long as it is appropriate to their education, training, and experience.
Licensing Suspension for Doctors and Drug Manufacturers
- Health care professionals licensed in good standing in other states are temporarily authorized to practice in Michigan.
- Drug manufacturers or wholesale distributors of prescription drugs licensed in good standing in other states are temporarily authorized to distribute and ship controlled substances into Michigan hospitals, licensed manufacturers, or wholesale distributors.
The Use of another Facility’s Personnel or Volunteers
- Designated health care facilities are temporarily authorized to use qualified personnel affiliated with other designated health care facilities and adjust the scope of practice of these volunteers as if they were affiliated with the facility.
- Any licensed health care professional or designated health care facility providing services in response to COVID-19 are not subject to liabilities sustained by a person by those services, unless such injury or death was caused by gross negligence; and
- Unlicensed volunteers or students providing services in response to COVID-19 constitute disaster relief personnel and are subject to immunity from liability.
License Renewal, Certification, and Registration Suspension
Renewal of a license, certification, or registration will be suspended in the following circumstances:
- Suspension of exams, to the extent that the exam’s administration was canceled while the emergency declaration is in effect;
- Professional certifications in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, or first aid will not expire during the public health emergency; and
- Deadlines for 911 telecommunicators and trainees to complete training or continuing education are suspended for 60 days.
- Fingerprinting requirements are suspended to the extent that a location is unavailable while the emergency declaration is in effect; and
- Employee fingerprinting conditions of licensure and certification of hospitals, nursing homes, county medical care facilities, or psychiatric hospitals are suspended.
Protect Your Workplace Rights During and After the Coronavirus Crisis
The COVID-19 emergency calls for all hands on deck at existing and makeshift hospitals and other medical care facilities. While the governor’s executive order protects health care providers from liability, they may need to protect themselves from employers’ violations of state and federal employment laws, both during the pandemic and later.
If you have questions about your COVID-19-related workplace rights, whether you’re a health care worker or not, please contact the employment law attorneys at Sommers Schwartz today. We are working remotely and remain here to help.