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Good Samaritan


You are a registered nurse, employed as a charge nurse at a subacute

rehabilitation facility. It is midnight, and you are driving home from

work when you see a motor vehicle crash with a person at the side of

the road waving and yelling for help. You stop and call 911 to report

the incident. What do you do next?

Ethical/Legal Points for Consideration

• As a licensed health care professional, you are under no legal

obligation to stop and give aid.

• If you do stop, you assume an obligation not to leave the scene

until sufficiently trained first responders arrive and assume


• Many states encourage health care professionals to stop and give

aid by having “Good Samaritan” laws. These laws, which vary

somewhat from state to state, offer immunity from lawsuit for

bystanders who offer aid in emergencies except in the case of

gross negligence.

• A Good Samaritan must not be in the place of employment or

under employment conditions.

• An example of gross negligence may be refusing to help someone

who obviously had a serious hemorrhage in favor of a person

with a minor injury because the bleeding person looked old or


• Immunity covers only the scene of the accident and not later care

under the supervision of HCPs.

• If there is a national disaster, an act of terrorism, or a major

emergent need for HCPs, you may be required to go to an

assigned site to offer aid. You would not be covered by the Good

Samaritan Act under these circumstances.

Discussion Questions

1. What factors do you think contribute to a health care

professional’s decision whether to stop to provide aid?

2. What basic aid would you feel comfortable providing if you do

not have an emergency or trauma background?

3. Would your professional liability (malpractice) insurance cover

you if someone claimed that you acted negligently while giving

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