Communicable Diseases & Pandemic Preparedness Ad Hoc Task Force


    The Communicable Diseases and Pandemic Preparedness Task Force is a volunteer group established by the Health Care Law Section, State Bar of Michigan. Its mission includes researching and preparing resources regarding federal and state legal requirements in handling communicable disease and pandemic events, such as Ebola and Zika. Ideally, the resources will contain citations, recommendations, and useful links for various aspects with disease progression and management. Topics covered could include: detection, isolation and quarantine; treatment of condition; supplies and equipment requirements; waste disposal; handling patient discharge/death; and privacy and confidentiality. Task force members will be requested to focus on certain aspects of law and regulation. Task force leadership will work to edit the product for flow and consistency. The end product will be made available to health section members.

Publications & Reports

Management of Mass Fatalities in Pandemic and Mass Casualty Situations 
By: Jesse DePauw, Esq., Senior Associate, Kitch, Amanda Hart law student, University of Michigan Law School, Sangeeta Ghosh, Esq., Assistant Corporate Counsel, Kent County, Melissa Markey, Esq., EMT-P, CISSP, Shareholder, Hall Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, Laura Napiewocki, Esq., MHSA, Associate General Counsel, University of Michigan

In light of recent events, the HCLS decided to release a draft version of this publication to assist our members in responding to issues that their clients and organizations may face in the coming weeks and months.  In the near future, the HCLS will publish a final version of this paper and will notify all section members of the update.

In the ordinary course of business, there is a well-understood process for the disposition of bodies in the State of Michigan. There are clear criteria for determining when the decedent needs to be transferred to the Medical Examiner for evaluation of the cause of death, and when the body may simply be released to the funeral director. However, there are times that ordinary practices cannot be followed—when there is a pandemic or a major disaster that results in an overwhelming number of fatalities. Understanding the standard, ordinary course of business processes, and considering modifications to those processes based on the recommendations of expert public health associations will help Michigan's healthcare providers and their counsel prepare for, and respond to, such crises in a manner that promotes public health and meets legal requirements. This publication also helps legal counsel provide structure and guidance to facility staff regarding the disposition of bodies during high-fatality events. Read more  March 2020 PDF

Pandemic Legal Preparedness: A Brief Overview
By Devin Schindler, Gregory Ripple, Melissa Markey, Jesse DePauw, Laura Miron Napiewocki, & Sangeeta Ghosh

Zika. Ebola. Bird flu. SARS. The list of potentially catastrophic diseases that could lead to a pandemic seems to grow daily. The potential legal issues facing healthcare providers, hospitals, state agencies, and local health authorities in treating individuals with highly communicable diseases are legion and generally not well developed. For this reason, the Communicable Diseases and Pandemic Preparedness Ad Hoc Task Force of the State Bar of Michigan spent the last two years studying those legal issues and compiled resources available to help both private and public health organizations prepare for a pandemic outbreak. Read More PDF

Ebola: A Public Health and Legal Perspective
By Melissa Markey, Montrece M. Ransom, & Gregory Sunshine

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest epidemic of Ebola virus disease in history, with widespread transmission in three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As of this writing, there have been four confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States. Public health and healthcare lawyers are addressing complicated legal issues, including concerns related to states’ authority to quarantine individuals who are infected with or have been exposed to Ebola, along with issues related to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, the privacy and security of information, and vaccine liability. Read More PDF

Protecting the Public: A Guide for Physicians, Healthcare Providers, & Attorneys on Quarantining & Isolating Patients with Communicable Diseases
By Devin Schindler, Professor, WMU-Cooley Law School

The authority to isolate, treat, and quarantine individuals with communicable diseases stands at a crowded intersection of federal law, state law, and constitutional law. A healthcare provider’s duty when contending with patients who suffer from highly communicable, potentially deadly diseases is likewise not subject to any easy answer. Read More PDF


A downloadable PDF with Internet links, including resources from the Centers for Disease Control and OSHA, outbreak-specific information, articles on ethics, legal checklists, and other information. Read More PDF

Related Events

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule "Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers" in the past fall. The effective date was November 15, 2016 but the implementation deadline is November 15, 2017. This rule establishes national emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating providers and suppliers to plan adequately for both natural and man-made disasters, and coordinate with federal, state, tribal, regional, and local emergency preparedness systems. It will also assist providers and suppliers to the needs of patients, residents, clients, and participants during disasters and emergency situations.


    Please read ALL of the following six disclaimers:

    1. The Health Care Law Section (HCLS) does NOT offer legal advice. These materials are offered for information purposes only. DO NOT ACT OR RELY upon any of the resources and information available in or from the Health Law Section without seeking professional legal advice.
    2. The transmission of information from HCLS to you is NOT intended to create nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between HCLS and you.
    3. The resources that can be accessed outside the HCLS domain are NOT maintained by HCLS. HCLS is not responsible for the contents of any such resources.
    4. HCLS does NOT (a) make any warranty, express or implied, with respect to the use of the links provided; or (b) guarantee the accuracy, completeness, usefulness, or adequacy of any resources, information, apparatus, product, or process available at or from HCLS.
    5. The rules, regulations, and statutory references to ethical requirements at HCLS are subject to revision and interpretation. Unless otherwise noted, we make no representation, warranty, or claim that the information available here is current or accurate. You should contact your state or local bar for guidance on their current requirements. HCLS is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the resources or information available at or from this site.
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