Good Samaritan Laws

Good Samaritan Laws

Good Samaritan Laws

Last month, I had just collected my suitcase at the baggage claim area of an airport when I heard a commotion by the door to the outside. I saw a man lying face down on the floor in a puddle of blood. I went over to help. A woman standing next to him was holding a white scarf to his nose. Together we got him to his knees and then to a standing position. He told me he felt dizzy before he fell. He looked dazed. The airport security guard came, and I asked him for a wheelchair. “No wheelchairs in this area” he told me. “EMS is on the way.” I handed the man over to the guard, who walked him over to a set of chairs along the wall. Then I left the airport.

Two weeks later, I was waiting for my dinner to be served in a restaurant when I heard a commotion. I saw a man lying on his back on the floor. I went over to help. His wife was standing next to him. The man was lying in vomit, which had splashed the chair, the floor and him. His eyes were open; he looked pale under a ruddy tan. His blue eyes stared at me but did not seem to be aware of his environment.

The waiter called 911 and I transmitted information to the waiter based on my assessment of the patient. He had a rapid carotid pulse; his wife said he had hypertension. The man began answering in one-word sentences. Gradually he became more aware.

When the EMS arrived, they put cardiac leads on his chest and transmitted his rhythm to the ER. By this time, the man was speaking and apologizing to the other people at his table for the problem. He was wheeled out to the ambulance for the trip to the hospital. The couple sitting next to my table told my husband in my absence, “Please thank her for coming to the aid of the man.”

On my way out of the restaurant, I talked with the waiter about the importance of knowing how to relieve obstructed airway. He admitted he and other waiters had not been trained. I recommended an American Heart Association class to learn the technique.

Good Samaritan Laws

What I did as a nurse to help these two men falls under the category of the Good Samaritan law. All states have some type of law, but they are not identical. Which types of providers are covered and how the laws are carried out varies. In general, these conditions apply:

The patient should be in immediate danger to bypass the need for consent before treatment.

The care the Good Samaritan renders should be within generally accepted standards.

The care the Good Samaritan gives should be within the provider’s general area of expertise. The Good Samaritan should not do anything she is not trained to do.

The Good Samaritan is doing so without compensation or expecting to be paid and should not accept gifts or rewards.

The Good Samaritan is acting in good faith and should use common sense.

The Good Samaritan should get professional help for the patient.

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