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Medical Ethics: Interface of Law and Medicine |

What Does the Law Say to Good Samaritans?Good Samaritan Law: A Review of Good Samaritan Statutes in 50 States and on US Airlines FREE TO VIEW

Patricia H. Stewart, MD; William S. Agin, JD; Sharon P. Douglas, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (Dr Stewart), and Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (Dr Douglas), Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS; Mr Agin is a Senior Status Judge for the State of Mississippi.

Correspondence to: Patricia H. Stewart, MD, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State St, Jackson, MS 39216; e-mail: phstewart@umc.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2013;143(6):1774-1783. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2161
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Published online

Physicians may encounter medical emergencies outside a hospital or clinical setting, such as on an airplane or at a sporting event. Physicians, particularly critical care physicians, should feel a call of duty to assist in a medical emergency and may do so without complete knowledge of existing laws for protection. The intent of this article is to encourage physicians to have a detailed awareness of Good Samaritan laws in the United States. The authors reviewed and summarized the Aviation Medical Assistance Act (AMAA) as well as the Good Samaritan laws and external defibrillator laws in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Physicians have an ethical duty to provide appropriate emergency care outside hospital or clinical settings and, therefore, should be aware of applicable protective laws. On airplanes, the AMAA provides protection to those physicians acting in Good Samaritan roles on airlines registered in the United States. On the ground, physicians should understand that statutes exist in all jurisdictions to protect Good Samaritans from liability in medical emergencies and in the use of defibrillators. Although there are common elements, each state has its own unique statutory language protecting physicians licensed in that state. All states except Kentucky have statutory language providing immunity to physicians licensed in any other state as well. Some states have interesting statutes relative to other aspects of medical emergency care. A physician entrusted to practice medicine by society and law should be willing to provide appropriate medical care wherever needed.

With increased life expectancy and chronically ill or elderly patients being more mobile, medical emergencies can occur anywhere.13 Physicians encountering these emergencies may think about what their role is outside a clinical setting.

There are no available data for how often a Good Samaritan aids someone in distress, either in the air or on the ground, but information does exist regarding the incidence and type of emergencies that may occur in flight. One study by the Federal Aviation Administration of five US airlines estimated the incidence of in-flight emergencies from 1996 to 1997 to be 8 per one million enplanements, or 13 events per day.4,5 In general, studies have shown that the most common medical problems encountered in-flight are GI; neurologic, specifically syncope; respiratory; and cardiovascular.24,6 Cardiovascular emergencies result in the greatest number of flight diversions.4

Ethically, a physician should feel compelled to provide emergency care but may be hesitant to do so because of possible legal implications. Physicians may wonder, what is my role as a Good Samaritan? As a physician, can I provide emergency care in states where I am licensed and also when visiting other states where I am not licensed?

This article considers the call to duty to respond from an ethical standpoint. Further, it presents a legal summary of the Federal Aviation Medical Assistance Act (AMAA) of 1998,7 which is the Good Samaritan Law applicable to physicians on board an aircraft registered in the United States. Finally, the article explores the laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia as they apply to physicians acting as Good Samaritans, including statutes on immunity from liability in the use of defibrillators.

The term “Good Samaritan” is used medically and legally. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is found in the Book of Luke in the Bible.8 Its intent is to answer the question “who is my neighbor?” In the story, a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is beaten and robbed and left for dead on the road. A priest and then a Levite pass the man without offering assistance. Finally, a Samaritan comes upon the man and feels compassion, offering first aid and transporting the injured man to an inn, where the Samaritan continues care for him, even pledging to pay his bill. In the story, the question of who is the neighbor or who is the individual acting ethically is easy to answer. If the parable instructs a layperson to aid a stranger in need, what is its lesson for a physician?

According to Pellegrino,9 medicine is a “learned profession” whose special claim lies in its members’ altruism. Physicians commit themselves to the welfare of those they serve, while at times suppressing self-interest. Pellegrino9 cites essential virtues of physicians in the profession of medicine: fidelity to trust, benevolence, intellectual honesty, courage, compassion, and truthfulness. Physicians who embody these virtues commit to a special promise to serve those requiring their expertise.9 Pellegrino also argues that the profession of medicine has an internal morality born out of the nature of medicine itself. This internal morality is medicine’s aim for good in meeting basic health needs of humans, and it transcends cultural and historical contexts to what is the human predicament of illness and healing.10

In its longstanding ideals for physicians, the Hippocratic Oath11 recognizes a responsibility to patients in beneficent practice of the art of medicine. When a physician takes the oath, he or she makes a binding commitment to use his or her special knowledge and skills to serve the sick. With this oath, the physician enters a moral community whose purpose is to respond to and advance the welfare of patients. Without this commitment, the physician is simply a skilled technician fulfilling an occupation, not a profession.9

Guidance for physician responsibility in an emergency setting can be found in major medical society codes. The American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics states that a physician should “respond to the best of his or her ability in cases of emergency where first aid treatment is essential.”12 The World Medical Association in its International Code of Medical Ethics states that “a physician shall give emergency care as a humanitarian duty unless he/she is assured that others are willing and able to give such care.”13 Society also holds the medical profession to a higher level of responsibility. Physicians possess specialized medical knowledge and clinical experience and thus are expected to have a greater moral obligation to provide appropriate medical aid than lay persons.14

Having once recognized a beneficent duty to intervene, physicians should do so in a way that respects patient autonomy.15 Any care rendered by a physician should be with the informed consent of the patient, if possible, even in an emergent situation. If not possible, the ethical approach to consent would exist as implied consent. Certainly no care should be given against the wishes of a patient with decision-making capacity.

When a physician responds in an emergency, he or she should be willing to cede care of the patient to someone who has more experience, when such a person is present or arrives on the scene.1 For example, a physician who does not routinely assist in critical medical situations should yield to one who does. In a straightforward ethical context, legal ramifications notwithstanding, a physician should respond to the best of his or her clinical ability to help another.

When considering medical emergencies outside a physician’s medical practice, legal questions arise relative to the potential liability as a result of a physician’s response to an ailing stranger. The potential legal liability is for any negligent acts or omissions of the physician in rendering emergency medical care. Our review reveals specific protections extended to responding physicians under applicable laws.

Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998

Relative to in-flight emergencies, the US Congress enacted a federal statute to limit the liability of medically qualified individuals who respond to medical emergencies on a commercial airplane registered in the United States. The primary objective of the AMAA was to encourage the assistance of medical professionals in emergencies that arise in a commercial airline cabin by removing concerns over being sued by the recipient of such assistance. The AMAA, in its Section on Limitations on Liability, states:

An individual shall not be held liable for damages in any action brought in a Federal or State court arising out of the acts or omissions of the individual in providing or attempting to provide assistance in the case of an in-flight medical emergency unless the individual, while rendering such assistance, is guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct.7

This statute makes clear that any acts or omissions of the physician constituting simple or ordinary negligence are protected from civil lawsuits in both Federal and State courts. Simple negligence is “the failure to use ordinary care” or “the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.”16 Gross negligence, on the other hand, is “[a] conscious, voluntary act or omission in reckless disregard of a legal duty and of the consequences to another party.” Willful misconduct is “misconduct committed voluntarily and intentionally.”16 This is much more than a simple error. This would mean that a physician had departed substantially from minimally accepted medical care or had shown egregious behavior while providing care. Therefore, if the physician has exercised gross negligence or willful misconduct when responding to the emergency, the physician would likely be subject to liability. In summary, outside of gross negligence or willful misconduct, the AMAA protects from liability any physician who renders emergency care even if that care is not rendered in the way that a reasonably medically qualified individual would have done so.

Although this paper deals with in-flight emergencies occurring on airlines registered in the United States,7 for physicians on international airlines not registered in the United States, the basic rule is that the laws of the country in which the carrier is based apply.17 This paper does not address laws of other countries. However one caveat found in this review is that some countries, such as Australia and countries in the European Union, impose a legal duty on the physician to respond. The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom do not have a requirement to act.3,17

The AMAA also extends immunity from liability to air carriers registered in the United States with regard to damages arising from assistance provided during an in-flight medical emergency. When the flight crew requests the assistance of a passenger, the flight crew is under a statutory duty to first make a good-faith effort to determine that the passenger is “a medically qualified individual” and therefore may ask for some proof or documentation of the responding passenger’s medical credentials. The act defines “a medically qualified individual” as “any person who is licensed, certified, or otherwise qualified to provide medical care in a State, including a physician, nurse, physician assistant, paramedic, and emergency medical technician.”7 If a physician responds without being requested to do so by the air carrier, he or she might not be defended by the airline but would still be entitled to protection under the AMAA as long as the requirements of the act have been met. The flight crew and ultimately the airline captain are in charge of the operation of the airplane, including determining when to divert the flight.17

State Good Samaritan Statutes

Although the federal AMAA statute is commonly referred to as a Good Samaritan Law, states have also enacted Good Samaritan statutes. The common law from England and the early years of this country held that a stranger was generally under no legal duty to come to the aid of someone in peril.18 If a doctor happened upon the scene of an emergency and elected to provide emergency medical treatment, the doctor was liable for damages caused by his or her negligent care.19 The prospect of being sued by the victim of an accident or other emergency was viewed as having a chilling effect on medical professionals. In 1959, beginning in California, state legislatures began passing Good Samaritan Laws to encourage people, including physicians, to render care at the scene of an accident or emergency by precluding civil suits due to simple or ordinary negligence.20,21

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted a Good Samaritan statute. We have analyzed these laws in Table 1. Although no two jurisdictions use the same language in their laws, there are several common themes or elements in these statutes:

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1 —Summary of Good Samaritan Laws in All 50 States and the District of Columbia
a 

Our interpretation is that this broad category includes a list of medical professionals licensed in any state, such as physicians, surgeons, osteopaths, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and dentists. Other times the language may be more general, such as licensed health-care providers, health-care professionals, practitioners of the healing arts.

b 

Alabama provides coverage for the broad category of “any person” only as it relates to responding to a cardiac arrest.

c 

Idaho covers the broad category of “any person” referring to those who respond “at the scene of an accident” rather than the more broad term “at the scene of an emergency.”

d 

Kentucky extends immunity only to physicians licensed by Kentucky. This statute does, however, extend immunity to any person certified by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross to perform CPR.

e 

In Maryland, a person providing emergency medical care must relinquish care of the victim when a Maryland licensed medical provider becomes available.

f 

Michigan’s Good Samaritan statute only provides coverage to physicians licensed in Michigan who render emergency care. A separate statue, Mich. Comp. Laws §691.1504, does, however, provide immunity to anyone giving CPR or using an automated external defibrillator.

g 

Okla. Stat. Tit. 76 §5 specifically mentions that surgeons or dentists licensed in Oklahoma are covered as related to surgical or dental emergencies. Okla. Stat. Tit. 59 §518 extends the coverage to include all physicians licensed in the state of Oklahoma.

h 

West Virginia provides immunity to any person and those licensed to practice medicine in responding “at the scene of an accident.” Reading case law associated with this statute, our interpretation is that this stands for their Good Samaritan Law.

  • any physician...

  • who renders first aid or emergency care...

  • at the scene of an accident or emergency...

  • in good faith...

  • gratuitously without compensation or expectation thereof...

  • to a person not presently his/her patient...

  • shall not be liable for civil damages resulting from any acts or omissions by the person rendering the emergency care...

Any Physician:

In reviewing the laws in all 50 states and Washington DC, we sought to determine if licensed physicians were covered anywhere in the United States when acting as Good Samaritans, regardless of which state(s) currently grant them a medical license. We found that Good Samaritan statutes vary in the language in which they extend immunity. We classified into four categories the way we interpreted the circumstances in which physicians are provided immunity in states’ statutory language. Our results are shown in Table 1.

  • Column 1 indicates that the state’s statute provides immunity to any person who acts as a Good Samaritan, including physicians.

  • Column 2 indicates that the state’s statute has language that provides immunity to health-care personnel licensed in any state. This broad category often includes a list of medical professionals.

  • Column 3 indicates that the state’s statute specifically mentions that physicians licensed in any state acting as Good Samaritans have immunity in that particular state.

  • Column 4 indicates that the state’s statute specifically mentions that physicians licensed within that state itself have immunity.

Summarizing, all states except Kentucky provide statutory coverage for any licensed physician rendering emergency care in that state, regardless of which state(s) currently grant their medical license. In other words, all states except Kentucky have statutes providing immunity to physicians either with the general language any person, as in column 1; health-care personnel, as in column 2; physicians licensed in any state, as in column 3; or a combination of these three. Kentucky has a less-inclusive statute, providing immunity only to physicians licensed in Kentucky, making it the only state designated in column 4 only. Kentucky’s statute does, however, extend immunity to a person certified by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross to perform CPR.22 We also found that Michigan’s Good Samaritan Law is similar to Kentucky’s in that it was less inconclusive than other states. A separate Michigan statute, however, recognizes that health-care personnel with sufficient training may respond to a medical emergency.23 In our interpretation of this statute, a health care provider licensed in another state could act as a Good Samaritan in Michigan.

Who Renders First Aid or Emergency Care:

This element is generally thought of in terms of emergency medical treatment of a serious medical problem. Medical care provided as part of the ordinary ongoing patient-physician relationship would not fall within the protection afforded by the Good Samaritan statutes.

At the Scene of an Accident or Emergency:

Most states generally require that the emergency care must be provided at or near the scene of an accident or emergency. A few states’ laws also cover treatment while transporting the person to a medical facility. Some states’ statutes, however, do not specifically limit the area or location where the Good Samaritan Laws apply.

Some states (AZ, AR, CA, CO, KS, MI, MO, NC, OR, TN, VA, WI)2435 have statutes specifically addressing immunity to physicians who render voluntary care at an athletic event. Some of these states’ statutes are specific, addressing, for example, whether the physician volunteered ahead of time to be the team physician, whether the event is a school event, which types of schools are included, and whether the recipient of care is a participant.

In most states, Good Samaritan Laws specifically limit the protections to physicians only when they provide emergency medical care outside a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. However, some states (AK, CO, HI, LA, MI, ND)3641 do specifically provide some immunity for certain emergencies that may arise in a hospital or other medical facility when the physician has no duty to respond. Some states (DE, ID, IN, KY, ME, MN, NY, OH, OR, RI)22,32,4249 specifically exclude immunity rendered within a medical facility. Florida has two parts to its statute. One section generally excludes immunity for emergency care provided by any person at a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office,50 and another section provides immunity to any health-care practitioner who renders emergency care in a hospital if there is no existing patient-practitioner relationship.51 Similarly Nevada’s statute excludes from protection in a licensed medical facility a physician who has a preexisting relationship to the patient receiving emergency medical care.52

There are numerous appellate court opinions that address under what circumstances the Good Samaritan Law will protect a physician who responds to an emergency in a hospital or clinic. For example, Oklahoma’s Good Samaritan statute covers emergency care rendered “wherever required.”53 In Gomez vs Hameed,54 Oklahoma courts extended immunity provided under this Oklahoma statute to an in-hospital Good Samaritan response where the physician had no preexisting doctor-patient relationship, did not work for the hospital where the emergency care was rendered, was in the emergency room reviewing records, and was visiting his own patient. In summary, important specifics may exist in case law regarding the location at which emergency care is rendered.

In Good Faith:

Most states’ statutes specify that Good Samaritans must have acted in good faith. This basically means that the physician must have reasonably believed that the circumstances constituted an emergency or other dire situation that made emergency care necessary. States that do not use this specific language still incorporate this principle in applying their Good Samaritan statutes.

Gratuitously Without Compensation or Expectation Thereof:

A common element found in most Good Samaritan Laws is the requirement that the physician must have provided the emergency care gratuitously. Four states (AK, ID, NJ, ND)36,43,5557 did not raise the issue of compensation. Sending a bill for services could remove the protection from liability.

To a Person Not Presently His/Her Patient:

Some states include the element that the person to whom emergency care is given must not be a present patient of the physician. Other states incorporate it into the intent of the law that the physician must not be under a preexisting duty to treat the person in a patient-physician relationship.

Shall Not Be Liable For Civil Damages Resulting From Any Acts or Omissions By the Person Rendering the Emergency Care:

These statutes protect a physician from liability for civil damages resulting from simple or ordinary negligence. The protection from liability granted by Good Samaritan Laws, however, is not absolute. Most states say that physicians are liable for “gross negligence,” “intentional harm,” “willful misconduct,” “willful acts or omissions,” “willful and wanton acts,” “willful or wanton misconduct,” “reckless misconduct,” or “intentional wrongdoing.” Where statutes are silent on exceptions to immunity, appellate court decisions generally adopt these standards.

Statutes on Immunity When Using Defibrillators:

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have statutes that cover emergent use of defibrillators either in their Good Samaritan statutes or in separate statutes. These are referenced in Table 2. As a rule, a person who operates a defibrillator in the United States has immunity from liability.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 2 —Statutes in 50 States and the District of Columbia Addressing Immunity in the Use of Defibrillators
Other Interesting Statutory Findings:

In our review we discovered other interesting statutory provisions. Several states cover scenarios in which physicians would be provided immunity when rendering care to pregnant women in labor as a Good Samaritan action (NV, ND, VA).5860 Other states have statutes addressing care to minors as a Good Samaritan action without parental consent when delay of care would endanger the patient (MA, MO, MT, TN).6164 Colorado and Maine specifically address immunity to physicians volunteering for a ski patrol.37,45 South Carolina and Florida provide immunity to anyone offering emergent care to a domestic animal.65,66

Rhode Island and Minnesota have a duty-to-act statute at the scene of an emergency, whereas Vermont, in its statute on emergency medical care, requires that a person shall give reasonable assistance to another in a medical emergency. These statutes apply to any person, not just a physician. In Rhode Island, any person violating the statute is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be subject to a 6-month imprisonment, a fine up to $500, or both. In Minnesota, a person who violates the statute is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. In Vermont, the penalty for violation of the statute is a fine of not more than $100.46, 67, 68

Most physicians feel compelled to act in an emergency situation but may be hesitant, in part, because of uncertainty about legal ramifications. This review makes clear that laws exist to protect Good Samaritan physicians.

In the Air

On an airplane registered in the United States, the AMAA provides protection to physicians acting as Good Samaritans as long as they do not engage in gross negligence or willful misconduct. This federal statute covers aircraft registered in the United States even if they are outside US airspace.

As physicians can be asked by air carriers to provide proof of licensure when medical emergencies happen on an airplane, physicians may consider carrying proof of medical licensure when traveling. Although the AMAA was intended to encourage but not require physicians to act as Good Samaritans, there are countries that impose a legal duty on the physician to respond.

On the Ground

Knowledge of laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia educates physicians on the ways in which protection is extended under Good Samaritan laws. From our review, the following conclusions can be made:

  • All states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting physicians licensed in that jurisdiction.

  • All states except Kentucky have laws providing immunity in that state to a physician licensed in any other state as well. The District of Columbia provides immunity to physicians licensed within the District or any other state.

  • Most states specify that Good Samaritan care is that rendered at or near the scene of an emergency.

  • If a physician charges a fee for medical care rendered in an emergency situation, Good Samaritan statutes generally will not protect the physician.

  • Good Samaritan immunity applies when the person receiving the care is someone with whom the physician does not have a preexisting duty to treat.

  • All states and the District of Columbia provide immunity from liability for damages resulting from simple or ordinary negligence. Gross negligence and willful misconduct are not protected.

  • All states and the District of Columbia have statutes providing protection from liability in the use of defibrillators.

  • Rhode Island, Vermont, and Minnesota have laws compelling a person to act in medical emergencies.

Ethical Responsibility

Ethical responsibility compels a physician to act as a Good Samaritan. Physicians commit themselves to the welfare of those they serve. Physicians take their Oath to fulfill a moral purpose to respond to and advance the welfare of patients.9 Unless others who are more qualified to assist are available, a physician should respond with beneficent action to the best of his or her clinical ability when the need for emergent care arises.

Financial/nonfinancial disclosures: The authors have reported to CHEST that no potential conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Other contributions: We thank Rajesh Bhagat, MD, and Bette Crigger, PhD, for their editorial assistance.

AMAA

Aviation Medical Assistance Act

Shepherd B, Macpherson D, Edwards CMB. In-flight emergencies: playing The Good Samaritan. J R Soc Med. 2006;99(12):628-631. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Urwin A, Ferguson J, McDonald R, Fraser S. A five-year review of ground-to-air emergency medical advice. J Telemed Telecare. 2008;14(3):157-159. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Sand M, Bechara FG, Sand D, Mann B. Surgical and medical emergencies on board European aircraft: a retrospective study of 10189 cases. Crit Care. 2009;13(1):R3. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
DeJohn C, Veronneau S, Wolbrink A.The Evaluation of In-Flight Medical Care Aboard Selected US Air Carriers: 1996-1997.Washington DC: Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Aviation Medicine, May 2000;. Technical Report Number DOT/FAA/AM-00/13.
 
Ruskin KJ, Hernandez KA, Barash PG. Management of in-flight medical emergencies. Anesthesiology. 2008;108(4):749-755. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Baltsezak S. Clinic in the air? A retrospective study of medical emergency calls from a major international airline. J Travel Med. 2008;15(6):391-394. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998, Pub. L. 105-170, Apr. 24, 1998, 112 Stat. 47, Sec. 5. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1998.
 
Luke 10:29-37.The New Scofield Reference Bible. Authorized King James Version. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 1967.
 
Pellegrino ED. Professionalism, profession and the virtues of the good physician. Mt Sinai J Med. 2002;69(6):378-384. [PubMed]
 
Pellegrino ED. The internal morality of clinical medicine: a paradigm for the ethics of the helping and healing professions. J Med Philos. 2001;26(6):559-579. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
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Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association. Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, Opinion 8.11. American Medical Association website.http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion811.page. Accessed January 31, 2013.
 
World Medical Association. (2006).WMA International Code of Medical Ethics. http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/c8/index.html.pdf?print-media-type&footer-right=[page]/[toPage]. Accessed June 6, 2012.
 
Daniels S. Good Samaritan acts. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 1999;17(2):491-504. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Beauchamp T, Childress J.Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 6th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009;:12-13, 198.
 
Gardner BA.Black’s Law Dictionary. 9th ed. Wellington, NZ: Thomson Reuters; 2009;:1084, 1133-1135.
 
Dachs RJ, Elias JM. What you need to know when called upon to be a Good Samaritan. Fam Pract Manag. 2008;15(4):37-40. [PubMed]
 
Restatement of the Law Second. Torts 2d, Duties of Action, §314, Vol. 2, 1965, p. 116.
 
Restatement of the Law Second, Torts 2d, Negligent Performance of Undertaking to Render Services, § 323, Vol. 2, 1965, pp. 135-139.
 
Curran WJ. Legal history of emergency medicine from medieval common law to the AIDS epidemic. Am J Emerg Med. 1997;15(7):658-670. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Pegalis, Steven E., J.D., American Law of Medical Malpractice 3d, Good Samaritan Defense, §7:13, Vol. 2, 2005, p 161.
 
Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. §411.148.
 
Mich. Comp. Laws §333.16171.
 
Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §32-1472.
 
Ark. Code Ann. §17-95-101.
 
Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code Ann. §2398.
 
Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-21-108.2.
 
Kan. Stat. Ann. §65-2891.
 
Mich. Comp. Laws §691.1501.
 
MO. Rev. Stat. §537.07.
 
NC Gen. Stat. §90-21.14.
 
OR Rev. Stat. §30.800.
 
Tenn. Code Ann. §63-6-218.
 
VA Code Ann. §8.01-225.1.
 
Wis. Stat. §895.48.
 
Alaska Stat. §09.65.090.
 
Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-21-108.
 
Haw. Rev. Stat. §663-1.5.
 
LA. Rev. Stat. Ann. §37:1731.
 
Mich. Comp. Laws §691.1502.
 
ND Cent. Code §32-03.1-05.
 
Del. Code Ann. 16 §6801.
 
Idaho Code Ann. §5-330.
 
Ind. Code §34-30-12-1.
 
ME. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14 §164.
 
Minn. Stat. §604A.01.
 
NY Pub. Health Law §3000-a.
 
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §2305.23.
 
RI Gen. Laws §5-37-14.
 
Fla. Stat. §768.13 (2) (a).
 
Fla. Stat. §768.13 (2) (c).
 
Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.505.
 
Okla. Stat. Tit. 76 §5.
 
Gomez v. Hameed, Okla., 184 P.3d 479 (2008).
 
Idaho Code Ann. §54-1804.
 
NJ Stat. Ann. §2A: 62A-1.
 
ND Cent. Code §32-03.1-02.
 
Nev. Rev. Stat. 45.506.
 
ND Cent. Code §32-03.1-02.1.
 
VA Code Ann. §8.01-225.
 
Mass. Gen. Laws Ch 12, §12F.
 
Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.037.
 
Mont. Code Ann. §41-1-405.
 
Tenn. Code Ann. §63-6-222.
 
SC Code Ann. §47-1-75.
 
Fla. Stat. §768.13 (3).
 
RI Gen. Laws §11-56-1.
 
VT Stat. Ann. Tit. 12 §519.
 

Figures

Tables

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1 —Summary of Good Samaritan Laws in All 50 States and the District of Columbia
a 

Our interpretation is that this broad category includes a list of medical professionals licensed in any state, such as physicians, surgeons, osteopaths, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and dentists. Other times the language may be more general, such as licensed health-care providers, health-care professionals, practitioners of the healing arts.

b 

Alabama provides coverage for the broad category of “any person” only as it relates to responding to a cardiac arrest.

c 

Idaho covers the broad category of “any person” referring to those who respond “at the scene of an accident” rather than the more broad term “at the scene of an emergency.”

d 

Kentucky extends immunity only to physicians licensed by Kentucky. This statute does, however, extend immunity to any person certified by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross to perform CPR.

e 

In Maryland, a person providing emergency medical care must relinquish care of the victim when a Maryland licensed medical provider becomes available.

f 

Michigan’s Good Samaritan statute only provides coverage to physicians licensed in Michigan who render emergency care. A separate statue, Mich. Comp. Laws §691.1504, does, however, provide immunity to anyone giving CPR or using an automated external defibrillator.

g 

Okla. Stat. Tit. 76 §5 specifically mentions that surgeons or dentists licensed in Oklahoma are covered as related to surgical or dental emergencies. Okla. Stat. Tit. 59 §518 extends the coverage to include all physicians licensed in the state of Oklahoma.

h 

West Virginia provides immunity to any person and those licensed to practice medicine in responding “at the scene of an accident.” Reading case law associated with this statute, our interpretation is that this stands for their Good Samaritan Law.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 2 —Statutes in 50 States and the District of Columbia Addressing Immunity in the Use of Defibrillators

References

Shepherd B, Macpherson D, Edwards CMB. In-flight emergencies: playing The Good Samaritan. J R Soc Med. 2006;99(12):628-631. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Urwin A, Ferguson J, McDonald R, Fraser S. A five-year review of ground-to-air emergency medical advice. J Telemed Telecare. 2008;14(3):157-159. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
Sand M, Bechara FG, Sand D, Mann B. Surgical and medical emergencies on board European aircraft: a retrospective study of 10189 cases. Crit Care. 2009;13(1):R3. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 
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