AMA gives guidance to retired physicians going back to work to help healthcare systems handle COVID-19

The American Medical Association (AMA) has put out new guidance for retired physicians who are being recruited to help healthcare systems overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

States such as New York hit hard by COVID-19 have reached out to retired physicians to help bolster ranks of front-line healthcare workers. A major concern among healthcare systems is staffing, especially as personnel have a high chance of contracting the virus.

So retired physicians “can play a critical role at this time,” said AMA President Patrice Harris in a statement Monday. “For example, many health centers are training their senior physicians to provide remote care through telemedicine programs, to take a greater role in teaching online and to provide administrative leadership to allow physicians at lower risk to provide direct patient care."

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Medical schools are also seeking senior physicians to help with online teaching and mentoring of students, the AMA said.

The guidance offers details on licensing requirements physicians need to meet to return to service. Licensing requirements differ from state to state.

Some states have allowed retired physicians to temporarily return via an executive order or a state directive.

“Often these actions specify the physician’s license must have been in good standing at the time of retirement,” the guidance said. “Many states have also indicated the physician must have been in active practice within the last two to five years.”

Regarding liability and malpractice, the economic stimulus package President Donald Trump signed into law last week provides liability protections for volunteer workers.

“If you are authorized to prescribe and administer certain countermeasures to treat COVID-19, you may be immune from liability under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act,” the guidance added.