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
• 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.
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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