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Medical Shield Bill Hopes to Increase the Number of Doctors and Nurses Who Volunteer

The colloquial phrase “good Samaritan” comes from the parable of “The Good Samaritan” found in the Gospel of Luke.  The phrase is used to describe someone who helps a stranger, and many hospitals and charitable organizations are named after the Good Samaritan.  Now, doctors hope a legislative proposal nick named, “the good Samaritan bill” will open a door for more volunteers. Approved by the Indiana House of Representatives, the medical health shield bill would provide doctors and nurses who serve at volunteer clinics with immunity from malpractice litigation.  Many doctors and nurses already volunteer, but they often face extra fees for additional insurance coverage.  However, the legislation doesn’t give doctors a license to do harm. A provision in the legislation would still allow for liability in instances of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

As Virginia medical malpractice attorneys we know that Virginia has a similar “good Samaritan” law that controls what the liability (or non-liability) for a third party that comes to the aid of an already-injured person in an emergency situation.

§ 8.01-225of the Virginia Code states that any person who “in good faith, renders emergency care or assistance, without compensation, to any ill or injured person at the scene of an accident, fire, or any life-threatening emergency, or en route therefrom to any hospital, medical clinic or doctor’s office, shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or missions resulting from the rendering of such care or assistance.”

The statute also states that if a citizen helps deliver a baby without having given care or known anyone who has given her care, is not liable for an injury that occurs during the birth. The only exception is if the citizen is grossly negligent, which basically means they have to act recklessly.  

Although we inherently trust our doctors to care for our health, medical malpractice is actually more common than most people realize. Each year, thousands upon thousands of people are affected by the mistakes of hospitals, surgeons, and doctors - and the majority never file medical malpractice claims. A staggering 225,000 people die each year due to medical malpractice.  Giving doctors and nurses who are kind enough to offer their services for free a discount in their medical malpractice insurance seems like a good idea.  Although we agree with state legislatures that if a patient was hurt by gross negligence or willful misconduct then doctors would still be held liable.




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