When considering getting your CPR certification you may be wondering, can you be sued for performing CPR? Imagine you are at the scene of a car crash or another unfortunate accident. You are a bystander spotting a victim in need of immediate assistance. You want to help but don’t have particular medical knowledge or a CPR certificate. What are your options?
It is a known fact that bystander CPR can boost one’s chances of survival. As such, medical personnel advise that laypersons at the scene help and keep the victim responsive until first responders arrive.
But are there consequences for bystanders that fail to revive the person via CPR? Below, we examine the Good Samaritan laws, which protect individuals who provide assistance to persons in need without being medically trained and qualified to do so.
Can Good Samaritan Laws Protect You From Being Sued for Performing CPR
The purpose of Good Samaritan laws is to protect persons acting in good faith from being held accountable for any accidental harm they may do. Since an unresponsive individual cannot request assistance, a respondent can help by giving CPR. Regulations are here to protect themfrom legal action based on implied agreement.
Rules regulating Good Samaritan laws require that aid be given at the scene of the occurrence and solely out of a desire to assist someone else in need. Responders who have received specialized training in lifesaving measures are normally exempt from Good Samaritan legislation. However, there are many nuances to this that we’ll explore later.
The broad consensus is that if you are informed about basic CPR methods and see a person in need, you have an ethical obligation to attempt to save that person’s life. Don’t stop and think about if you can be sued for performing CPR. Every minute counts when CPR is needed.
The Importance of Performing CPR in Emergency Situations
Research indicates that neurological damage happens only 4 minutes after the person has lost consciousness. Death, on the other hand, may take 4 to 6 minutes. Hence, performing CPR is crucial to saving a person’s life. The last thing you should be thinking about is if you can be sued for performing CPR.
When a person enters cardiac arrest, time becomes an invaluable resource. In some cases, It may take more than 4 to 6 minutes for the emergency to arrive – in which case witnesses must help.
When done correctly, CPR on a patient out of the hospital or other medical facility might extend their life. The technique of CPR is widely promoted in the United States by groups like the American Heart Association.
Do-not-resuscitate Orders and Good Samaritan Laws
When a person doesn’t wish to be revived for a concrete reason (such as a terminal illness), they request a do-not-resuscitate order (DNR) from their doctor. Their doctor will then draw up the order, which exempts the patient from receiving CPR when they enter cardiac arrest.
If the respondent gave the person CPR while being aware that the person had a DNR, they might be held liable. Nevertheless, the respondent cannot be held liable if they were unaware of the person’s DNR.
DNRs differ per state, just like the Good Samaritan laws. In some places, the DNR is only effective when used inside a healthcare center; it has no relevance elsewhere. Medical personnel can perform CPR in these states even if they know that the patient has a DNR as long as they are doing it outside a clinic.
When to Use an AED
It is your responsibility to see the mission through to completion after you offer to assist people in need. You can’t simply stop giving CPR any time you want to. This is considered gross negligence, and you are not protected by the Good Samaritan statutes.
Bystanders that administer CPR and use an AED are immune from legal liability under the 2000 Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, except for gross negligence. In fact, research shows that bystanders who don’t wait for medical personnel to arrive and use an AED anyway often have positive outcomes. So, in cases where the victim has a shockable heart rhythm, it’s best if onlookers use an AED immediately.
Note: There are Good Samaritan laws in each state, and they mainly protect individuals who provide AEDs and CPR. Nonetheless, the regulations can differ from one state to another.
How to Respond to a Lawsuit
No layperson providing CPR withreasonable care has ever been taken to court. You run almost no risk by helping out if you are in a position where doing so could save someone else’s life. Usually people are thankful in these situations when someone with a CPR certification is around.
Always remember to use the correct method, and if you can revive the patient, stay with him or her until help arrives. In the unlikely event you are sued, get a skilledlawyer to guide you through your case. Any individual acting in good faith to save a life shouldn’t be held legally responsible for their acts unless they show great disregard for the victim.
Good Samaritan laws serve to protect people who are prepared to assist another individual without any hidden motives. There’s no reason you should have to deal with a lawsuit as long as you help at the spot of the emergency, use the correct method, and act only in good conscience.
When Can You Get Sued for Performing CPR?
If you are ever the only person able to help a trauma victim – do it without hesitation or worrying if you can be sued for performing CPR. However, make sure to stick to known practices and not panic. According to the law, people can get sued for providing CPR when untrained only if they are completely negligent – don’t pay attention to signs of life or administer CPR too aggressively.
Do Healthcare Providers Fall Under Good Samaritan Laws Protection From Being Sued for Performing CPR?
The purpose of the Good Samaritan legislation is to safeguard folk who don’t frequently provide emergency aid.
Certain requirements must be met in order for doctors (and other health care providers and emergency medical personnel) to be covered by the Good Samaritan laws. First, there must be no requirement to treat. This is why doctors who are on call are not covered by this protection if they make a mistake due to negligence.
Second – a doctor or other health care provider who provides assistance for free is exempt from liability in nearly all states. One can no longer qualify under Good Samaritan laws and is no longer entitled to protection if they are paid for providing emergency care.
There are Good Samaritan laws across every state. When a medical professional is on duty, the majority of laws do not apply to them. However, when they are responding to an emergency after hours, some laws do provide some protection. While some Good Samaritan statutes are situation-specific, others, like in Pennsylvania, include anybody who tries to assist in an emergency. Minnesota obligates bystanders in an emergency to offer reasonable assistance, like calling 911.
For instance, unless cardiac arrest is involved, Alabama’s statute restricts participation to a trained bystander and public education personnel. Only CPR or bleeding control bystander emergency aid is covered by Oklahoma’s Good Samaritan protection law.
Looking At What We Learned About Being Sued for Performing CPR
Can you be sued for performing CPR even if you have a CPR certification? You can indeed be sued for performing CPR; however, the Good Samaritan laws exist to protect you. Unless you are negligent while administering CPR and not paying attention to the victim, you won’t face charges.
Different rules apply to medical personnel. If a doctor, nurse, or any other healthcare provider administers CPR off-duty, they are also protected by Good Samaritan laws. However, if they give CPR while working and are negligent, the laws don’t apply to them.