The Good Samaritan law protects individuals who provide medical assistance during medical emergencies like drug overdoses and cardiac arrest. This law is generated to protect those who are not medically trained and, undertaking that no medical personnel is available, these individuals step in to help.
Can You Get In Trouble for Performing CPR?
You cannot get in trouble for performing emergency Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Good Samaritan laws exist to protect people from lawsuits when they help others in need, and these laws typically extend to CPR.
The Good Samaritan law states that as long as the actions or medical care taken are reasonable assistance and sensible for the given situation, and there is no expectation of compensation, the individual is not legally held responsible for any injury or death caused. This law allows people to help others without fearing charges if something goes wrong.
The incident in Bakersfield, California, where an 87-year-old woman lost her life due to the refusal of a nurse to administer CPR to the victim women. The nurse did so because she followed the protocol of the nursing home facility she was employed in. Unfortunately, the 87-year-old woman lost her pulse before the Emergency Medical Services provider arrived and was declared dead after being taken to a local hospital. The dispatcher of the Emergency Medical team filed a lawsuit against the nurse. This news spread like wildfire in the media and was an eye-opener for lawmakers and its enforcement agencies in California. This also raised several questions, such as the consequences of not helping in emergencies. Or what if you fail while helping?
What does Good Samaritan Law Cover?
Well, this varies from state to state and country to country. In the U.S., civilians have immunity for any damage caused while performing CPR or using an AED until they are found negligent under the 2000 Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of Congress. Good Samaritan Law in all states protects people administering CPR or using Automated External Defibrillator (with restrictions).
In Minnesota, not giving emergency care is an offensive act of misdemeanor, while in Vermont, you could receive a penalty of $ 100 in this case. A group of states, including California and Nevada, has amended their Good Samaritan Law, according to the law, its duty to help in emergencies. It is considered a criminal offense if you don't help in situations of crisis in Europe and several other countries.
There is usually an exception for those in the profession, such as medical professionals, health care providers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and others with legal duties. People who fall under this category are often required to provide first aid or CPR to people in the vicinity who need it, or to stop on highways and in other areas where there has been an accident to see if someone might need help.
California: The California Good Samaritan Law (Health and Safety Code 1799.102) was expanded in 2009 to cover non-medical aid, like pulling someone from a wrecked car, after a landmark case (Torti v. L.A.) where a woman was sued for non-medical aid.
Florida: Florida's Good Samaritan Act (FL Statute 768.13) also includes a clause that protects people who use an automated external defibrillator (AED) during an emergency.
New York: New York's Good Samaritan Law (Public Health Law Article 30) extends protection to medical professionals, emergency medical technicians, and ordinary citizens. It also includes specific provisions for administering naloxone in opioid overdose situations.
Texas: Texas law (Civil Practice and Remedies Code Sec. 74.151) extends protection to any person who administers emergency care in good faith, voluntarily, and without expecting compensation. This includes using an AED and administering emergency care in a hospital or emergency room.
Illinois: Illinois law (745 ILCS 49/ Good Samaritan Act) extends protection to individuals who, in good faith, provide emergency assistance without fee at the place of an emergency or accident. It also includes specific protections for those providing first aid, non-medical services during a disaster, and CPR.
Ohio: Ohio's Good Samaritan Law (ORC Ann. 2305.23) protects individuals who provide emergency medical care at the scene of an emergency. It also extends to the use of an AED and the provision of CPR.
Michigan: Michigan's Good Samaritan Law (MCL 691.1501) protects individuals who voluntarily provide emergency care at the scene of an emergency. It also has a specific law (MCL 333.17744) that protects individuals who administer an opioid antagonist in an emergency.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania's Good Samaritan Law (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8331.2) protects licensed health care professionals and other individuals who, in good faith, provide emergency care at the scene of an emergency. It also includes protections for those using an AED.
Georgia: Georgia's Good Samaritan Law (O.C.G.A. §51-1-29) protects individuals who voluntarily provide emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency. It also includes protections for those using an AED.
Washington: Washington's Good Samaritan Law (RCW 4.24.300) protects any person who, in good faith, provides emergency care at the scene of an emergency or accident. It also includes protections for those using an AED and those providing CPR.
How to protect yourself from civil liability?
The best way to protect yourself from civil liability when helping others is to always act in the victim's best interests. If your motivation is to be a hero and not simply to help a fellow human, you risk making mistakes not covered by good Samaritan laws. To stay out of court, it's best if you enroll in a CPR and first aid class and make sure to follow the training. Don't do anything outside of your scope of training. Get professional help for the victim as soon as possible. Do not accept gifts, compensation, or rewards for your help.
Bystander CPR Survival Rate
American Health Association's statistics show that if a bystander provides CPR to a person who is a victim of a sudden cardiac arrest, this almost doubles the chance of a patient's survival, but only 32% of people are fortunate who receive CPR from a bystander. Department of Public Health San Francisco conducted surveys to list reasons hindering bystanders from performing CPR.
The director of Emergency Medical Service San Francisco, Mr. John Brown, revealed that people are concerned about personal safety; he said:" They're worried the person is faking it—maybe they'll get mugged … or that they're going to hurt themselves bending over".
Mr. Brown further added that people fear they could hurt the patient while administering CPR. In addition, some are scared of catching diseases from the patient; some are also scared of getting sued for this; he said," There is no legal obligation for a bystander to help an injured person. They can just walk by; it's up to that individual."
So what is required is to educate people that chest-only compressions can save a precious life and be risk-free, and no legal obligations are involved.
Good Samaritan laws are designed to encourage people to help in medical emergency situations by providing some legal protection from potential liability. These laws vary from country to country and sometimes state to state but typically offer protection from lawsuits or other legal action. However, it is important to understand that Good Samaritan law are not always absolute and that you could still be held liable in some cases. If you are considering providing medical emergency care, familiarize yourself with the Good Samaritan laws in your area so that you can know your rights and responsibilities.