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Good Samaritan law can prevent medical malpractice claims

Any New York physician will likely sometime face circumstances in which he or she is expected to provide medical assistance in emergency situations that occur outside of his or her regular practice or place of work. However, what happens if the aid provided does not save the victim's life or some other reason is found to hold the physician responsible for an adverse outcome? Can the doctor be sued for medical malpractice?

One example of situations faced by physicians is performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking patron of a restaurant. Also, when a doctor is involved in or happens upon a road accident in which immediate care is required to stop bleeding, stabilize a neck or perform CPR, he or she should not have to hesitate for fear of being sued. Another potential scenario is a fellow passenger on a plane suffering a medical emergency and the captain calling for a doctor's help.

These are but some of the circumstances in which lives can be at stake, and a physician who happens to be present can provide urgent care. However, a doctor can risk his or her own safety by working without gloves and other protection in situations in which he or she will be exposed to potential pathogens or other dangers. To protect those who step in to help without considering their own safety, there is the Good Samaritan doctrine that protects these caregivers and removes the concern that there might be repercussions if any actions taken in chaotic circumstances are regarded as errors.

New York individuals who have suffered damage after receiving care by a Good Samaritan may want to gain the necessary knowledge of the protection offered to such a caregiver. The most logical step might be to discuss the circumstances with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer can explain the laws pertaining to Good Samaritans and examine the allegations to determine the viability of such a claim before a lawsuit is filed.

Source: Huffington Post, "The Good Samaritan Rule", Darryl S. Weiman, Oct. 4, 2017

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