COMMENTARY

Your Malpractice Advisor: Avoid Pitfalls When Being a Good Samaritan

Lee J. Johnson, Esq., MA, JD

Disclosures

November 02, 2010

In This Article

Introduction

Physicians are often tempted to help out in an emergency, perhaps to save a life. Besides coming to the aid of an injured person or person in distress, a number of doctors -- particularly retired physicians -- volunteer their services at community clinics.

However, doctors often question whether they're putting themselves at risk for a malpractice lawsuit, even if they're trying their best to help. In some situations, they may indeed be putting themselves at risk.

Public policy behind Good Samaritan laws is to encourage health professionals to render aid in emergencies. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have one. The federal government has one that covers domestic airplane travel.

Each state law is different. What is common in all states is an attempt to encourage aid by restricting the liability of those who provide it.

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