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Another in flight emergency…

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  • White.Beard.Doc White.Beard.Doc 
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    As far as I am aware, no physician has ever been successfully sued for responding as a Good Samaritan. And the courts would certainly take that issue into account if a physician without a duty to the person in distress were to respond in an emergency.

    In the future, I will continue to respond as a Good Samaritan. I feel it is my ethical obligation to do so. And it is further the obligation of the justice system to protect me when I respond as a Good Samaritan.

    Perhaps you may think I am naive, but so be it. I feel strongly about my personal conviction that the right thing to do is to assist a person in distress in a limited resource environment.

    #210171 Reply
    fatlittlepig fatlittlepig 
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    I helped a couple times when I was a resident and young attending. Now when I fly I am on vacation and either enjoying cocktails or sleepy on doxylamine so don’t answer anymore. The simple fact I was asked to file a report and “chart” the event last time I helped was enough to turn me off. While this is not optimal on a human level, I feel that we have big enough targets on our backs as it is, we don’t need further exposure by trying to make an important decision with little if any equipment and with no med mal coverage in a situation with dubious good samaritan protection.

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    I agree there is not much you can do as a physician without your labs and ekgs etc but not responding and pretending you aren’t there just seems a bit callous for a physician.

    #210180 Reply
    Avatar jbmitt 
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    I posted earlier with the perspective as a pilot, and I went back and dug up one of my aviation law books.  I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice.  However, 49 USC 46501 addresses special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.

    US Law applies to all US registered aircraft.  This means any plane with a N number in the registration (usually located near the tail on either side).  All US military aircraft. Any aircraft within the US (for example a foreign airline in US airspace arriving/departing a US airport).  Any aircraft outside the US that has either its next scheduled destination or last point of departure in the US.

    Thats all pretty broad, but favors enforcing US Good Samaritan/med mal laws.  The other point to consider is that the US is often a favorable jurisdiction compared to many other countries because we allow all sorts of litigation, meaning people would rather sue in the US than overseas.  Other countries are much quicker to shut frivolous litigation down.

    This all favors having protection under US Good Samaritan laws.  I think with a US based airline, US registered aircraft, US based crew, you should have strong defenses, especially if you act with good judgement and intentions.  I wouldn’t think about cautioning my spouse about rendering medical assistance with my knowledge of aviation, but again, I’m not a lawyer.

    #210187 Reply
    Liked by ENT Doc, SLC OB
    Avatar RollieStrummer 
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    I posted earlier with the perspective as a pilot, and I went back and dug up one of my aviation law books.  I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice.  However, 49 USC 46501 addresses special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.

    US Law applies to all US registered aircraft.  This means any plane with a N number in the registration (usually located near the tail on either side).  All US military aircraft. Any aircraft within the US (for example a foreign airline in US airspace arriving/departing a US airport).  Any aircraft outside the US that has either its next scheduled destination or last point of departure in the US.

    Thats all pretty broad, but favors enforcing US Good Samaritan/med mal laws.  The other point to consider is that the US is often a favorable jurisdiction compared to many other countries because we allow all sorts of litigation, meaning people would rather sue in the US than overseas.  Other countries are much quicker to shut frivolous litigation down.

    This all favors having protection under US Good Samaritan laws.  I think with a US based airline, US registered aircraft, US based crew, you should have strong defenses, especially if you act with good judgement and intentions.  I wouldn’t think about cautioning my spouse about rendering medical assistance with my knowledge of aviation, but again, I’m not a lawyer.

    Click to expand…

    In flight medical liability is addressed specifically in the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998.  This supersedes any broader good Samaritan protections or state med/mal laws.

     

    As far as I am aware, no physician has ever been successfully sued for responding as a Good Samaritan. And the courts would certainly take that issue into account if a physician without a duty to the person in distress were to respond in an emergency.

    In the future, I will continue to respond as a Good Samaritan. I feel it is my ethical obligation to do so. And it is further the obligation of the justice system to protect me when I respond as a Good Samaritan.

    Perhaps you may think I am naive, but so be it. I feel strongly about my personal conviction that the right thing to do is to assist a person in distress in a limited resource environment.

    Click to expand…

    “Successfully sued”.  You are probably right.  That would set a precedent that we as a society don’t want.  However ask any physician who has been “unsuccessfully sued” and many will tell you it was one of the worst most stressful situations of their life.  Society may not reward the plaintiff, but it also won’t protect the defendant from the harm of an “unsuccessful”suit.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t help, but be aware, there is personal risk in helping.  Don’t think the airline is in any way “grateful” for your assistance or will reward you in any way.  You may get a token of appreciation, but if it comes to the airline protecting itself or standing behind you, you’ll find no support.

    #210194 Reply
    Liked by Zaphod, MaxPower
    fatlittlepig fatlittlepig 
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    What if patient has cardiac arrest on plane and it is discovered that there was a emergency room physician or cardiologist sitting in the next aisle over who just sat there. Seems like that would be a slight problem.

    #210197 Reply
    Avatar jbmitt 
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    In flight medical liability is addressed specifically in the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998.  This supersedes any broader good Samaritan protections or state med/mal laws.

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    I think we’re on the same page, but wanted to clarify.

    What you referenced is specific to in flight medical liability, and my reference was to where US jurisdiction applies with respect to aviation.  If I understand correctly, if one of the situations I outlined is applicable, US jurisdiction applies and laws such as the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998 that you shared would be followed.

    #210198 Reply
    White.Beard.Doc White.Beard.Doc 
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    What if patient has cardiac arrest on plane and it is discovered that there was a emergency room physician or cardiologist sitting in the next aisle over who just sat there. Seems like that would be a slight problem.

    Click to expand…

    In some jurisdictions, physicians not only have a moral obligation to respond, but also a legal obligation.  I know this is the case in France.  Failure to respond by a medical professional when presented with an unexpected emergency is a crime in France.

    So, if you are on an Air France flight headed to Paris….

    #210199 Reply
    Liked by SLC OB
    Avatar RollieStrummer 
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    What if patient has cardiac arrest on plane and it is discovered that there was a emergency room physician or cardiologist sitting in the next aisle over who just sat there. Seems like that would be a slight problem.

    Click to expand…

    Not in the USA.  There is no legal duty to intervene.  Not the case in some other countries, France, for example.  It would be pretty bad PR, though.  Someone could say they violated the Hippocratic oath, which is probably true, but that’s not legally binding.

    #210200 Reply
    Liked by Zaphod
    fatlittlepig fatlittlepig 
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    What if patient has cardiac arrest on plane and it is discovered that there was a emergency room physician or cardiologist sitting in the next aisle over who just sat there. Seems like that would be a slight problem.

    Click to expand…

    Not in the USA.  There is no legal duty to intervene.  Not the case in some other countries, France, for example.  It would be pretty bad PR, though.  Someone could say they violated the Hippocratic oath, which is probably true, but that’s not legally binding.

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    U would have a serious problem with the Fatlittlepig though.

    #210202 Reply
    Avatar Tim 
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    No good deed goes unpunished .
    Ninguna buena acción queda sin castigo.

    #210204 Reply
    Dreamgiver Dreamgiver 
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    As far as I am aware, no physician has ever been successfully sued for responding as a Good Samaritan. And the courts would certainly take that issue into account if a physician without a duty to the person in distress were to respond in an emergency.

    In the future, I will continue to respond as a Good Samaritan. I feel it is my ethical obligation to do so. And it is further the obligation of the justice system to protect me when I respond as a Good Samaritan.

    Perhaps you may think I am naive, but so be it. I feel strongly about my personal conviction that the right thing to do is to assist a person in distress in a limited resource environment.

    Click to expand…

    My right brain totally agrees with you, but my left wants nothing to do with it. It does not matter to me if nobody has been successfully sued, the single fact that you can be sued is enough deterrent. Missed days at work, headaches, legal expenses…and God forbid with the rampant stupidity all around you get unlucky and the jury sides with the plaintiff. With a stronger Good Samaritan Law that would shield you 100% from anything I might rethink my position. Thing is, I am either sleeping or enjoying a drink on a plane so you’d not want me to do anything to anyone anyway.

    And I have zero faith in the legal system. My wife and little kids got hit by a high on meth driver who ran a red light. No insurance, license, with a bond out for his arrest. Saw him on the street again 3 days later. No faith from me. Cops just as frustrated as us.

    #210238 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
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    What if patient has cardiac arrest on plane and it is discovered that there was a emergency room physician or cardiologist sitting in the next aisle over who just sat there. Seems like that would be a slight problem.

    Click to expand…

    I think in the US you’d just be labelled as an a-hole in the court of public opinion.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #210253 Reply
    Liked by Tim
    Avatar MSooner 
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    Just curious–would malpractice insurance cover a situation like this? (I’m guessing it depends on the policy, but generally)

    #210277 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
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    Just curious–would malpractice insurance cover a situation like this? (I’m guessing it depends on the policy, but generally)

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    I would be completely shocked if any policy extended coverage for a scenario like this.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #210278 Reply
    Dreamgiver Dreamgiver 
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    No, they would not cover

    #210279 Reply

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