Good Samaritan laws are in place to provide protection to a healthcare professional who attempts to aid a victim in an emergency situation or distress. This law encourages bystanders to help without hesitation because of fear of being sued or prosecuted due to unintentional injury or even death to the victim, provided that reasonable care is given.
In most states, there is no legal obligation for a healthcare professional to provide Good Samaritan care. To be under the protection of a Good Samaritan law, (in most states) a healthcare provider must not have a pre-existing duty to provide care to the patient. However, a healthcare provider does have a pre-existing duty if the victim is a current patient. In this case, the healthcare provider is obligated to provide care to the victim.
If a healthcare provider volunteers services, they have a duty to care for the victim until medical care is no longer required or until the victim is placed in the care of another who can relieve the provider, usually a hospital or other emergency care services. To discontinue aid before would be a breach of duty to the patient, known as abandonment.
Good Samaritan laws may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Although most Good Samaritan laws apply only to care provided outside the hospital, some states explicitly protect physicians who provide Good Samaritan care in a hospital.
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