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End of the Good Samaritan December 20, 2008

Posted by neoavatara in Health Care, Politics, Random.
Tags: , ,


This is the beginning of the end of good samaritanism in the United States.

Some background.  A group of colleagues were traveling in a car together when they were in a bad accident.  One of the colleagues pulled another out of the wreckage; apparently, causing that person’s spinal injury that left her a paraplegic.

California’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Good Samaritan law only protects people from liability if the are administering emergency medical care, and that Lisa Torti’s attempted rescue of her friend didn’t qualify.

Justice Carlos Moreno wrote for a unanimous court that a person is not obligated to come to someone’s aid.

“If, however, a person elects to come to someone’s aid, he or she has a duty to exercise due care,” he wrote.

I as a physician still always stop if I come to a new accident site.  I have always felt protected by the Good Samaritan law, which gives the good samaritan legal protection from any injury caused from the aid provided.  However, this law would make me seriously think twice.

Why?  First of all, I am a radiologist.  If a laymen judge decided tomorrow that as a radiologist that I am not fit to provide trauma care on the road, then he could make me liable under this judgement.  In this case, the California Supreme Court said that this citizen was NOT providing emergency care by moving the person from a potential fire hazard.  In fact, moving the patient to a safe location is usually the first thing you do in an emergency situation.

I do not have the legal ability to go through all the iterations of whether my aid is legally within the Good Samaritan law when I come upon an accident site…so I will just drive past, because ultimately my family’s welfare comes first.  I will feel extremely bad about it, but courts have left me and millions of others no other choice.



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