Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-26 which provides liability protections and regulatory flexibility for health care providers in the state of Kansas. The order went into effect on April 22nd and remains in effect until May 31st or until the COVID-19 state of emergency is declared over. The six page document eases regulatory requirements related to health care delegation and supervision as well as increases the pool of health care workers. Further, health care providers will be protected against liability for death or personal injury in response to COVID-19 care.

Expansion of Health Care Workforce

Governor Kelly’s executive order increase the pool of health care workers by allowing students, licensed health care military personnel, and out-of-state licensed professionals to volunteer or work in a Kansas designated health care facility in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] The order encourages facilities to share qualified volunteers or personnel as needed. 

  • Out-of-State: Licensed health care professionals must be in good standing in any state or territory to practice in Kansas without criminal, civil, or administrative penalty. They are subject to the same license limitations as the issuing state or territory.
  • Students: The Order allows students enrolled in programs to become licensed or certified health care professions to serve in whatever roles necessary to support the COVID-19 response. However, the role must be appropriate to the student’s education, training, and experience. Further, medical students, physical therapist, and emergency medical personnel, may additionally work as “respiratory therapist extenders” under the supervision of physicians, respiratory therapist, or advanced practice registered nurse.
  • Supervised Practitioners: The order removes provisions in Kansas Statutes relating to supervision and delegation of health care providers. This allows Physician Assistants; Advanced Practice Registered Nurses; Licensed Practical Nurses; and Pharmacists to provide medical services appropriate to the professional’s education, training, and experience without physician supervision. Additionally, registered nurses are allowed to order the collection of throat or nasopharyngeal swab specimens for testing without supervision or delegation. For these professionals, medical services may be provided without criminal, civil or administrative penalty related to the lack of supervision or lack of supervision agreement. 

Immunity Protections

Health care providers, as well as the expanded pool of workers enumerated above, are immune from lawsuit for death or personal injury in response to COVID-19 care.[2] The protections do not apply to injuries caused by willful misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness, or bad faith.  More so, the immunity is for providers making clinical and triage decisions and rendering assistance, testing, care, or advice to patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 during the declared emergency.[3] However, the order does not provide liability protection for health care providers delaying or deferring non-urgent care to non-COVID-19 patients during the declared emergency.

 Easing of Regulations

Lastly, certifications for professionals such as life support and first aid shall remain in effect during the emergency declaration. Also, Kansas regulations requiring health care professionals are temporarily suspended while the emergency declaration is in effect. These included regulatory requirements for professionals to:

  • take an exam (to the extent the exam’s administration has been canceled);
  • provide fingerprints;
  • continue education; and
  • pay a fee.

Comprehensive CARES Act and COVID-19 guidance

Husch Blackwell’s CARES Act resource team helps clients identify available assistance using industry-specific updates on changing agency rulemakings. Our COVID-19 response team provides clients with an online legal Toolkit to address challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak, including rapidly changing orders on a state-by-state basis. Contact these legal teams or your Husch Blackwell attorney to plan a way through and beyond the pandemic.

[1] “designated health care facility” includes (1) entities listed in K.S.A § 40-3401(f); (2) state-owned surgical centers; (3) state-operated hospitals and veterans facilities;(4) entities used as surge capacity by (1)-(3); Adult Care Homes; and any other location designated by Governor or KDHE Secretary to treat patients for COVID-19

[2] “health care providers” include those defined in K.S.A § 40-3401

[3] Liability immunity is made pursuant to K.S.A § 48-915