Can you be sued for performing CPR in Mesa, California? This is a question that bothers many who are willing to get trained in CPR. But before you dismiss the thought of CPR training, think of the lives you can save as a bystander.
The fear of being sued is justifiable. Fortunately, there are laws in place that protect individuals who assist in emergencies. The Good Samaritan law was created precisely for this purpose, so there are options for legal protection when in an emergency situation.
Importance of CPR
Based on research, while brain damage occurs within 4 minutes after the victim’s blood flow stops, death happens 4-6 minutes later. Quick action is essential in preserving life and protecting the brain.
Seven out of ten people have a cardiac arrest in their homes, away from the assistance of doctors and nurses. With emergency services being delayed by distance and traffic, knowing CPR means saving a person at the last minute before death occurs. Being CPR certified means helping someone in need and enhancing their chances of survival while awaiting professional assistance.
When Is It Appropriate to Perform CPR?
Several circumstances require CPR and can result in either cardiac arrest or cessation of breathing. Performing CPR can keep the oxygen-rich blood circulating to the organs until emergency response teams arrive.
Situations that could cause a heart to cease beating and the victim to stop breathing include:
- In conditions of near-drowning
- When a person suddenly collapses or is unconscious
- A person is not breathing
- When a person suffers an electrical shock
- A drug overdose
- Exposure to smoke or other inhalants
There are many situations in which it may be essential to perform CPR, and time is of the essence. This is why it’s crucial for those trained to perform CPR to feel comfortable performing CPR without legal repercussions.
Can you be sued for performing CPR?
Can you be sued for performing CPR in Mesa, California? The short answer is, yes, there is a possibility. However, the case will likely end in your favor. The laws put in place to protect good samaritans make a successful lawsuit difficult.
Legal Liabilities for Performing CPR
In reality, someone is much more likely to be sued for not acting than for attempting CPR. A total of $620 million dollars has been rewarded as settlements for delays in performance. Conversely, only $120,000 has been paid as damages for performing CPR.
Healthcare providers have certain liabilities to consider in terms of a failure to act or acting against a known DNR (Do not resuscitate order). Laypeople cannot be compelled to act in the same way. If the victim is known to you and you are aware of a DNR, you should always act in accordance with the wishes of the victim, even if this means a loss of life.
The legal liability that lay people should be aware of is those laid out in the Good Samaritan law.
Protection for Those Who Perform CPR
CPR is a life-saving procedure, and lawmakers have seen fit to preserve the integrity and intent of the procedure by enacting the Good Samaritan Law.
Good Samaritan Laws
The Good Samaritan Law requires the responder to act in good faith, there is no exchange of payment, and that care is provided at the emergency scene. There are also considerations in terms of gross negligence and willful misconduct. The part of the law that you should pay close attention to is the emergency scene.
If the emergency happens offsite from a medical facility or no medical professionals are available, a layperson may step up. If you are in a hospital, alert medical personnel.
Protections Provided by the Good Samaritan Laws
The Good Samaritan laws are designed to protect individuals acting in good faith and cannot be held accountable for the accidental harm they may do while administering CPR. Being in a situation to provide CPR to an unconscious person, they need to be protected against legal actions.
You’ll find that each state enforces different rules for CPR use. Some states allow bystanders to provide CPR, while other states limit this only to healthcare professionals. In general, the Good Samaritan Laws offer:
- Immunity from civil liability: The law protects from liabilities if they have acted in good faith and without compensation. So if an injury should occur (such as a broken rib), you cannot be sued.
- Limited protection from criminal liability: You cannot be sued for criminal liability if you have acted reasonably and followed CPR protocols.
Unless someone has acted to intentionally harm the victim or has not adhered to any CPR protocols, the chances of them being sued are limited. In short, as a bystander, you have an ethical obligation to assist a person in a life-or-death situation following the basic CPR protocols. This is one reason many states recommend that more people get CPR training and certification. It is also one of the reasons that many states are making CPR training mandatory for high school students.
Limitations of the Good Samaritan Laws
There are limitations to the law. It is important to note that ‘gross negligence’ can also be defined as a failure to act in an emergency. If the rescuer is a medical professional on duty, they are legally obliged to provide CPR. If healthcare professionals act against protocols, they could lose their licenses. The law does not apply to non-medical interventions.
Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNR)
What happens if a bystander gives CPR to a person with a DNR order? Laws on DNRs differ between states, which complicates matters. Some states accept the DNR as effective only inside medical facilities. This means that CPR can be provided to a person with DNR if they suffer cardiac arrest in a public area.
Not everyone has their DNR order on them at the time of emergency. Many people today may wear a bracelet or have found another way to inform possible rescuers that they do not wish to be resuscitated. However, this is often not the case.
A rescuer cannot be held responsible for giving CPR if they are unaware of a person’s DNR. This includes situations when the responder is unconscious and cannot give out this information or when there is no written record of the DNR.
When getting your CPR training, it is advisable to inform yourself of the rules of DNR in Mesa. This will save you a lot of trouble and give you peace of mind when offering help to strangers in need.
Responding to a Possible Lawsuit
It is human nature to help a person in need. When you find yourself in an emergency situation, the possibility of standing and watching another human being fight for their life is slim. Giving CPR is the right thing to do, and there is almost no risk in helping someone.
Ensure that you follow all CPR protocols leaving no room for mistakes. In most cases, people are thankful to those who have acted in good faith to help their loved ones. Hire a skilled attorney who will review all possibilities and provide guidance. The Good Samaritan Laws are there to protect you, so if you did everything right, there is no room for a lawsuit.
To Sum Up
There are some legal and ethical considerations surrounding CPR that you should consider before you step in to offer help to someone. CPR is an essential part of medical treatment, particularly when medical professionals are unavailable. You are unlikely to face legal consequences if you have acted in good faith, without compensation, and have not been grossly negligent. The victim or their family can sue you, but the law will be on your side.
And then there are the ethical considerations. Can you stand by and do nothing? If you are CPR certified, you are morally obligated to perform CPR and attempt to help. In cases of a possible DNR, you are protected if you were unaware that the person had one. However, this also differs between states, just like with the Good Samaritan Laws.
In conclusion, if you are CPR certified, you received your certification to help others in need. Act according to your conscience and your training, and the outcomes will surely be in your favor. In Mesa and the rest of California, the Good Samaritan law provides assurances as long as you have acted in good faith.