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Can You Get In Trouble for Performing CPR


March 18, 2017

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The incident of Bakersfield California in which an 87-year-old woman lost her life due to the refusal of nurse for administering CPR to the victim women. The nurse did so because she followed the protocol of nursing home facility she was employed in. The 87-year-old women lost her pulse before EMS team arrived and was declared dead after she was taken to a local hospital. The dispatcher of EMS team filled a lawsuit against the nurse. This news spread like wildfire in media and was an eye opener for law makers and its enforcement agencies of California. This also raised several questions like what will be the consequences of not helping in emergency situations. or what if you fail while helping.

Well, this varies from state to state, and country to country, in U.S. civilians, have the immunity for any damage caused while performing CPR or using AED until they were found negligent under the 2000 Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of the Congress. Good Samaritan Law is there in all states which lend protection to people administering CPR or using AED (with restrictions). In Minnesota not helping in an emergency situation 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, it’s duty to help in emergencies. It is considered as a criminal offense if you don’t help in situations of crisis in Europe and several other countries.

American Health Association’s statistics shows that if a bystander provides CPR to a person who is a victim of the sudden cardiac arrest, this almost doubles the chance of patient’s survival, but only 32% people are fortunate who receive CPR from a bystander. Department of Public Health San Francisco conducted a series of surveys to list down reasons which hinder bystander to perform 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 are afraid that they could hurt the patient while administering CPR. Some are scared of catching diseases from the patient;some people 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 required is to educate people that perform chest-only compressions can not only save a precious life but also risk-free and there are no legal obligations involved in it.