Legal Risks and Tips for Volunteer Physicians During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Cuomo has called for retired physicians and health care providers who are otherwise available to volunteer to assist with providing medical services to hospitals in New York State during this pandemic.

Executive orders have been issued by the governor, relaxing many regulations and licensure requirements and providing limited immunity from liability, in order to facilitate the provision of such services by volunteers.

Many insureds have asked questions about the risks of coming out of retirement or being asked to provide hospital services which they have never/not performed for a long period of time.

Here are some tips to consider when volunteering during this pandemic:

  • Be aware that you may be asked to work beyond your former scope of practice, specialty training, and abilities.
  • If you are not up to date on infection control and will be providing person to person care, obtain appropriate training from the facility or organization for which you are providing volunteer services.
  • Qualified immunity from New York State applies for providing medical services in support of the response to the Pandemic.
  • The exception to immunity is gross negligence.


  • Work only within your competence, knowledge, capacity, training and even your comfort level, when providing voluntary services.
  • Document the rationale and decisions for treatment provided and/or considered.

MLMIC will continue to keep policyholders informed of COVID-19-related developments and encourages all providers to visit the dedicated resource page on our website.

Policyholders also have access to MLMIC’s toll free 24/7 Legal Hotline: (855) FAKS-LAW (1-855-325-7529). Our experts are available to help you address the challenges that may arise as you continue to care for patients throughout the nationwide response to this coronavirus pandemic.