The reality of COVID-19 – the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 – has caused healthcare systems around the world to face crushing demand. As hospitals and caregivers face a shortage of PPE and the energy to continue moving forward amid nightmare conditions, a glimmer of hope has emerged when needed most. Retired physicians around the country have answered the call to return to their practice and bring much-needed aid to first responders and hospital professionals in some of the hardest-hit cities and regions.
If you are a retired physician who is donning your scrubs to enter the fray, you may have many questions related to practicing medicine and administering care during this unique moment in history. Luckily, the AMA has released valuable information for those coming back to the medical workforce that lays out a framework for what to expect, how to navigate legal and licensure issues and a variety of other scenarios. By taking the time to catch up on both the COVID-19 situation in the area you are heading to, as well as the guidance from the AMA, you can bring hope and healing to the world while protecting yourself as well.
Protecting Yourself While Protecting Others
The AMA guidance shines a light on many of the issues that may arise as retired physicians and other medical professionals head back to hospitals and care centers during COVID-19.
For many, the legality surrounding licensure status may cause concern for those coming back after an extended period of retirement. The policies vary from state to state, but many states have taken action to allow individuals to temporarily return to practice through an Executive Order, Department of Health Order or Board of Medicine directive.
Another reality exists in senior physicians offering aid to patients who may have a novel virus that attacks older individuals with severe illness. The AMA has curated policies and instruction for individuals to consider when deciding whether or not to answer the call for help, and what the various options of direct care and non-direct care are.
There is also the element of professional liability and retirement status. For those who are putting their lives at risk to help others, there may be a fear of legal repercussions in regard to both financial stability and protection throughout the period of care. The AMA has also put together great resources to consider, as well as the various state and federal order that have put unique protections and provisions in place for individuals volunteering their services during this time:
- Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act)
- Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act (UEVHPA)
- Emergency Management Assistance Compact
Knowledge Is Power. Be Prepared
One of the greatest preventative measures is proper knowledge of a situation or scenario one is heading into. By taking the time to read and reflect on the resources provided by the AMA, you can make an informed and educated decision during a time of heightened emotions and anxiety. To see a full listing of information, head over to the AMA’s resource site.