OLR Research Report


December 8, 2008

 

2008-R-0660

“GOOD SAMARITAN” LAWS IN FOUR OTHER STATES

By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney

You asked about “Good Samaritan” laws in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

SUMMARY

Although “Good Samaritan” laws vary by state, they generally protect volunteers from civil liability for acts or omissions that cause injury to another while providing assistance in an emergency.

The laws in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island either apply broadly to volunteers providing emergency assistance or to (1) those whose usual duties do not include emergency medical care, (2) specific medical professionals, (3) people using automated external defibrillators (AEDs), or (4) people trained in first aid or life saving techniques. Some of the laws in these states also protect those who provide AEDs for use, owners of property where emergency assistance occurs, and people who provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED training. Pennsylvania also protects veterinarians.

The laws in these four states generally protect someone from negligence claims but allow a person to be sued for intentional misconduct, gross negligence, or treatment in the ordinary course of his or her professional practice.

“GOOD SAMARITAN” LAWS IN FOUR STATES

Table 1 below displays the “Good Samaritan” laws in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. It shows who the laws protect, the conduct covered, and exceptions to the protection from liability.

Table 1: Good Samaritan Laws in Four States

Who is Protected

Conduct

Exceptions

Massachusetts

Registered physicians

Registered physician assistants and their employing or supervising physicians

Registered or licensed nurses

Practitioners who reside and are licensed in other states, D.C., or Canada

(Mass. Gen. L. ch. 112, 12B) *

Good faith emergency care or treatment as a volunteer without a fee

Care or treatment in the ordinary course of the person's practice

Anyone whose usual and regular duties do not include providing emergency medical care

(Mass. Gen. L. ch. 112, 12V)

Good faith, and without compensation, attempts to render emergency care, including CPR and defibrillation

Gross negligence

Willful or wanton misconduct

New York

Licensed dentists (N.Y. Educ. Law 6611)

Licensed physicians (N.Y. Educ. Law 6527)

Licensed registered professional nurses and licensed practical nurses (N.Y. Educ. Law 6909)

Registered physician assistants (N.Y. Educ. Law 6547)

Licensed physical therapists (N.Y. Educ. Law 6737)

Voluntarily rendering first aid or emergency treatment to a person who is unconscious, ill, or injured without expecting monetary compensation, at the scene of an accident or emergency, outside of a hospital, doctor's office, or other place with proper and necessary medical equipment

Gross negligence

Care or treatment in the normal and ordinary course of the person's practice

A person or entity that purchases or makes available resuscitation equipment to facilitate first aid, an AED, or an epinephrine auto-injector device as required by or pursuant to law

An emergency health care provider under a collaborative agreement with respect to an AED or epinephrine auto-injector device

(A person or entity can acquire and operate an AED under a collaborative agreement with an emergency health care provider and operating it pursuant to law is considered first aid or emergency treatment for purposes of the statute on liability (N.Y. Public Health Law 3000-b))

(Public Health Law 3000-a)

Using equipment when voluntarily rendering first aid or emergency treatment without expecting monetary compensation

Using defectively manufactured equipment

Negligence

Gross negligence

Intentional misconduct

-Continued-

Who is Protected

Conduct

Exceptions

Voluntary ambulance services, voluntary advanced life support first response services, and any of their members who are certified first responders

Emergency medical technicians

Advanced emergency medical technicians

Anyone acting under the direction of an emergency medical technician or advanced emergency medical technician

(N.Y. Public Health Law 3013).

Voluntarily rendering medical assistance in an emergency to a person who is unconscious, ill, or injured without expecting monetary compensation

Gross negligence

Does not relieve a voluntary ambulance service or voluntary advanced life support first response service from liability for acts or omissions on the part of anyone other than those listed

Damages caused by a voluntary ambulance service or members when operating a motor vehicle

Whether or not acting on behalf of an ambulance service or advanced life support first response service:

Certified first responders

Emergency medical technicians

Advanced emergency medical technicians

(N.Y. Public Health Law 3013)

Voluntarily rendering medical assistance in an emergency to a person who is unconscious, ill or injured without expecting monetary compensation

Gross negligence

Physicians

(N.Y. Public Health Law 3013)

Voluntarily and without expecting monetary compensation providing indirect medical control to a voluntary ambulance service or voluntary advanced life support first response service

(which includes written policies for pre-hospital emergency medical care and transportation developed by state authorities and implemented by a regional committee)

Gross negligence

Pennsylvania

Physicians

Practitioners of the healing arts

Registered nurses

Those licensed by any state

(42 Pa.C.S.A. 8331)

Rendering emergency care in good faith when the person:

happens by chance on an emergency scene

arrives on the scene by reason of serving on an emergency call panel or similar committee of a county medical society

is called to the scene by the police or another government officer

is present when an emergency occurs

Intentional acts or omissions designed to harm

Gross negligence

-Continued-

Who is Protected

Conduct

Exceptions

Licensed veterinarians

(42 Pa.C.S.A. 8331.1)

In good faith, rendering emergency care to an animal (1) discovered at the scene of an accident or emergency situation or (2) immediately brought to the veterinarian's attention from the scene

Intentional acts or omissions designed to harm

Gross negligence

If the animal's owner is present to be consulted as to the proposed action

Individuals trained to use an AED

(42 Pa.C.S.A. 8331.2)

Using an AED in good faith in an emergency

Intentional acts or omissions designed to harm

Gross negligence

Obstructing or interfering with care and treatment being provided by emergency medical services personnel or a health professional

Individual without required training but with access to an AED

(42 Pa.C.S.A. 8331.2)

Using an AED in good faith in an emergency as an ordinary, reasonably prudent individual would under the same or similar circumstances

Intentional acts or omissions designed to harm

Gross negligence

Does not relieve from damages for obstructing or interfering with care and treatment being provided by emergency medical services personnel or a health professional

Person who acquires and maintains an AED

(42 Pa.C.S.A. 8331.2)

AED used by someone in an emergency situation

Does not apply unless follow AED legal requirements, including training expected users and maintenance

Anyone with a current certificate for completing a first aid, advanced life saving, or basic life support course sponsored by the Red Cross, American Heart Association, or an equivalent approved course

(42 Pa.C.S.A. 8332)

Rendering emergency care, first aid, or rescue by performing techniques and procedures consistent with the nature and level of the training for which the certificate was issued

Moving the person receiving care to a hospital or other place of medical care

Intentional acts or omissions designed to harm

Gross negligence

Does not relieve a driver of an ambulance or other emergency or rescue vehicle from liability arising from operation or use of the vehicle

-Continued-

Who is Protected

Conduct

Exceptions

Rhode Island

Anyone

(R.I. Gen. Stat. 9-1-27.1)

Voluntarily and gratuitously rendering emergency assistance to someone in need, including administering life saving treatment to someone suffering from anaphylactic shock

Gross negligence

Willful or wanton conduct

A person trained under standards of the American Heart Association or the Red Cross, whether acting in an official capacity or as a private volunteer

Property lessees and owners where the emergency assistance occurs and owners of life saving equipment

Someone providing approved training in CPR or AED use according to standards of the American Heart Association or Red Cross and physicians providing medical direction oversight for programs of AED use

(R.I. Gen. Stat. 9-1-34)

Gratuitously rendering emergency assistance in the nature of CPR or using an AED

Gross negligence

Willful or wanton negligence

This law also specifies that the practitioners are not liable for hospital expenses if the practitioner, under emergency conditions, orders a person hospitalized or causes the admission

CR:ts