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Can a doctor deny helping someone on the street?

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facts

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First post but I couldn't really find anything on here about it. If someone is asking for medical help in the street and a doctor walks past them and denies them, what would happen? I ask this because I know that people get set up all the time like that, their car won't start and they need help, someone needs help and they're bleeding out in the ally, you get the gist.
 

Pastamahn

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A doctor is in no way strictly obligated to help, but if you have the expertise to help and the situation isn't harmful to yourself, why wouldn't you?
 

UNMedGa

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Yep. Get EMS there! And if the situation is suspect, use your judgement - for EMTs, scene safety comes before patient care. You can't really help anyone else if you get hurt.
 
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DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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1. Why become a doctor if you don't want to help?

2. In this situation, how would anyone know the person walking by was a doctor? Is the doctor wearing a lab coat, scrubs, and an ID with the letters DO or MD behind his or her name?

3. Anyone can dial 911.

4. What are you talking about - how people get set up? Really?! You're more concerned about someone obviously in need possibly faking it to jack you up than you are saving someone's life.

Hmmm...guess you're one of those considering medicine for the money...
 
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Tenk

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Some people may quote a "duty to rescue" (ie Seinfeld style) if you completely ignore someone who needs help but these are rarely actually enforced. That being said, you are not required to give emergency care to anyone. If you choose to offer your services ALWAYS ask permission first unless the person is down and unresponsive and no one else is around. You can always just call 911 as well. A paramedic is about 100 times more equipped to handle a situation than I would be on the street and I am an EM physician.

If you do not ask permission you can be sued for assault. There are some Good Samaritan Laws that protect us but don't bet on them. Ask permission. Regardless of what you do, call 911 first.
 
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facts

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1. Why become a doctor if you don't want to help?

2. In this situation, how would anyone know the person walking by was a doctor? Is the doctor wearing a lab coat, scrubs, and an ID with the letters DO or MD behind his or her name?

3. Anyone can dial 911.

4. What are you talking about - how people get set up? Really?! You're more concerned about someone obviously in need possibly faking it to jack you up than you are saving someone's life.

Hmmm...guess you're one of those considering medicine for the money...
I'm from a bad neighborhood so unlike you, i know what it's like and the struggle people go through and what they feel they have to do to survive so this is the mindset i take with me everywhere, its called being street savvy. This was just a hypothetical question this isn't something that actually is going to happen to me
 
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lNVlNClBLE

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1. Why become a doctor if you don't want to help?

2. In this situation, how would anyone know the person walking by was a doctor? Is the doctor wearing a lab coat, scrubs, and an ID with the letters DO or MD behind his or her name?

3. Anyone can dial 911.

4. What are you talking about - how people get set up? Really?! You're more concerned about someone obviously in need possibly faking it to jack you up than you are saving someone's life.

Hmmm...guess you're one of those considering medicine for the money...

Uh.
If you aren't actually considering #4 to be a possibility for every street scenario, you may find yourself quite surprised (and helpless) one day.
 
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summergirl

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1. Why become a doctor if you don't want to help?

2. In this situation, how would anyone know the person walking by was a doctor? Is the doctor wearing a lab coat, scrubs, and an ID with the letters DO or MD behind his or her name?

3. Anyone can dial 911.

4. What are you talking about - how people get set up? Really?! You're more concerned about someone obviously in need possibly faking it to jack you up than you are saving someone's life.

Hmmm...guess you're one of those considering medicine for the money...
You have clearly never been to my home country. #4 happens so much there that people are scared to help others on the street.
 
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MDProspect

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I agree with @gyngyn that a person with medical training is morally obligated to provide aid in an emergency. However, you should always evaluate the situation. Are you putting yourself at risk by intervening? Also assessing the qualitative and quantitative futility of treatment is necessary. Do you have the training or tools necessary to provide help that would save the person's life. Is the person too far gone to be saved? OP's fear of being set-up is inane.
 
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DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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I'm from a bad neighborhood so unlike you, i know what it's like and the struggle people go through and what they feel they have to do to survive so this is the mindset i take with me everywhere, its called being street savvy. This was just a hypothetical question this isn't something that actually is going to happen to me

Don't presume to know what kind of neighborhood I come from or live in or what I have been, done, or gone through in life. Trust me, dear, I can survive better than a cockroach, but I prefer to lead with kindness not fear. That's been my mindset and it's taken me far. It's called being a decent human being.

And to those who are afraid of people in their neighborhoods or in other neighborhoods or who think everyone is out to get you, I really question why you feel compelled to practice medicine.

I prefer not to be paranoid or limited by phobias and to believe the best in people.
 
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lNVlNClBLE

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I agree with @gyngyn that a person with medical training is morally and under oath obligated to provide aid in an emergency. However, you should always evaluate the situation. Are you putting yourself at risk by intervening? Also assessing the qualitative and quantitative futility of treatment is necessary. Do you have the training or tools necessary to provide help that would save the person's life. Is the person too far gone to be saved? OP's fear of being set-up is inane.

I'm sorry, but properly assessing scene safety is not "inane".
The hospital ER is a controlled environment. The streets are not. Set ups can and do happen.
 
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lNVlNClBLE

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Don't assume to know what kind of neighborhood I come from.

And to those who are afraid of people in their neighborhoods or in other neighborhoods or who seem to think everyone is out to get you, I really question why you feel compelled to practice medicine. I

I prefer to not be paranoid or limited by phobias and to believe the best in people.

It has nothing to do with "believing everyone is out to get you". There are terrible people in this world. The streets can be a dangerous place. By assuming everyone is your friend, you put yourself at risk. A dead/injured doctor = two patients.
 
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osckey

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I think civilians can be charged with negligence if it can be proven that they had direct knowledge of someone in a life threatening situation that they knowingly did not report.

I've heard of doctors who intentionally did not respond to the call of "is anyone here a doctor?" simply because they didn't want to get hit with a malpractice suit if things went south despite the limited protections offered by the Good Samaritan laws.
 
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MDProspect

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I'm sorry, but properly assessing scene safety is not "inane".
The hospital ER is a controlled environment. The streets are not. Set ups can and do happen.
"I know that people get set up all the time like that, their car won't start and they need help, someone needs help and they're bleeding out in the ally, you get the gist"
It is inane if OP believes that everyone is out to get them on the street. Although the ER maybe controlled, you will still be treating people that will try to sue you for any reason. IMO, that is a set up as well.
 
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DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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Uh.
If you aren't actually considering #4 to be a possibility for every street scenario, you may find yourself quite surprised (and helpless) one day.

Considering #4 for every possible street scenario is the very definition of believing everyone is out to get you.
 

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I don't think you are required to render care.
 

lNVlNClBLE

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Considering #4 for every possible street scenario is the very definition of believing everyone is out to get you.

Lol no. If I believed everyone was out to get me then I would never render care no matter the civility of the situation.

Being street smart is not inane.
 

Goro

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This will be added to my bank of interview questions!



First post but I couldn't really find anything on here about it. If someone is asking for medical help in the street and a doctor walks past them and denies them, what would happen? I ask this because I know that people get set up all the time like that, their car won't start and they need help, someone needs help and they're bleeding out in the ally, you get the gist.
 
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tkim

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In the US, there is no legal obligation for a physician to render medical assistance to a person asking for help on the street. There may be a moral obligation, but that depends on your particular set of morals.

If you do render care, and do not ask for compensation, you are broadly protected under the Good Samaritan laws of each state.
 
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catie_jane

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I am actually curious about this. My SO is working as an EMT during college and I believe he is legally bound by law to stop and provide assistance to someone in an emergency (with the exception if he is intoxicated). I would assume if EMS is then why wouldn't physicians/midlevels as well?
 

Tenk

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I am actually curious about this. My SO is working as an EMT during college and I believe he is legally bound by law to stop and provide assistance to someone in an emergency (with the exception if he is intoxicated). I would assume if EMS is then why wouldn't physicians/midlevels as well?
Off duty no he is not. Again this is "Duty to rescue" and it is rarely if ever enforced.
 
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7331poas

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A lawyer can correct me but I am pretty sure that you can't be punished for negative acts in general. If such a law existed I would assume there would be serious constitutional problems.
 
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Mad Jack

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There are ten states with duty to aid laws on the books. There are other conditions where you legally must provide aid (spouse, children, injuring someone with your vehicle, common carrier with passengers in danger, etc) outside of these states. Generally, in the ten states where duty to aid laws exist (they largely proliferated after the death of Princess Diana, and were reactionary fluff) they are not applied except in the most egregious cases.
 

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4. What are you talking about - how people get set up? Really?! You're more concerned about someone obviously in need possibly faking it to jack you up than you are saving someone's life.

Hmmm...guess you're one of those considering medicine for the money...

Don't presume to know what kind of neighborhood I come from or live in or what I have been, done, or gone through in life. Trust me, dear, I can survive better than a cockroach, but I prefer to lead with kindness not fear. That's been my mindset and it's taken me far. It's called being a decent human being.

And to those who are afraid of people in their neighborhoods or in other neighborhoods or who think everyone is out to get you, I really question why you feel compelled to practice medicine.

I prefer not to be paranoid or limited by phobias and to believe the best in people.

Wow. For someone asking people not to presume anything about you, you sure were quick to presume that the OP was considering medicine for the money based on the three sentences he wrote in the original post.
 
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DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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Yes, and I apologize for expressing the sentiment, not for having it. I stand by my original question. Why practice medicine if you don't want to help people?!

I'm an EMT and in my state we have a duty to act even if we're off-work. I know about consent and asking permission before touching the patient.

And I know about scene safety especially in many rough neighborhoods of my corrupt city. The one I live in and the ones I render care in. I guess this woman is one brave cookie and actually wants to go into medicine to help humanity.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with other reasons many pursue the healing professions.
 
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7331poas

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There are ten states with duty to aid laws on the books. There are other conditions where you legally must provide aid (spouse, children, injuring someone with your vehicle, common carrier with passengers in danger, etc) outside of these states. Generally, in the ten states where duty to aid laws exist (they largely proliferated after the death of Princess Diana, and were reactionary fluff) they are not applied except in the most egregious cases.

Those situations you cited are different because, (like I said I only read law as a hobby), those people have assumed a position of "guardianship" in the eyes of the law. In those cases they have a "duty" to ensure the safety of their parties.

The question here is whether graduating medical school causes you to opt in to a general "guardianship" of the population in the eyes of the law. If this is the case in some states I really find that suspect in a constitutional context. The reason we don't punish negative acts is because they are the highest order of infringement on your Liberty.

I can elaborate on this point if necessary.
 
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Mad Jack

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Those situations you cited are different because, (like I said I only read law as a hobby), those people have assumed a position of "guardianship" in the eyes of the law. In those cases they have a "duty" to ensure the safety of their parties.

The question here is whether graduating medical school causes you to opt in to a general "guardianship" of the population in the eyes of the law. If this is the case in some states I really find that suspect in a constitutional context. The reason we don't punish negative acts is because they are the highest order of infringement on your Liberty.

I can elaborate on this point if necessary.
Being a physician in no way affects your legal responsibilities to others in thIs regard.
 
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7331poas

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Being a physician in no way affects your legal responsibilities to others in thIs regard.
Yes. That's what I am saying.

There is no obligation for anyone to help someone else when there has not been an established guardianship.

I'll pose a couple hypotheticals.

A sees B lying in an alley bleeding. B pleads with A to call 911. A walks away and does not call 911. Later police find B dead in the alley.

Is A liable in any context for Bs death?

The answer is no. A cannot be punished for **not** acting to help another without established guardianship.

----

M kidnaps N and stuffs her in his car trunk for 2 days. After one day M and his girlfriend Y are riding in the car when N begins to cause a commotion in the trunk.

Police find N dead in M's trunk a week later.

At trial Y testified that she was alone in the car with N for a brief period of time with access to a cell phone.

Is Y liable as an accessory to N's death?

Not in the slightest.


Now if Y had a medical license? Still a no. (Or at least it should be. I highly object to states which would have a law written otherwise)
 
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Mad Jack

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Yes. That's what I am saying.

There is no obligation for anyone to help someone else when there has not been an established guardianship.

I'll pose a couple hypotheticals.

A sees B lying in an alley bleeding. B pleads with A to call 911. A walks away and does not call 911. Later police find B dead in the alley.

Is A liable in any context for Bs death?

The answer is no. A cannot be punished for **not** acting to help another without established guardianship.

----

M kidnaps N and stuffs her in his car trunk for 2 days. After one day M and his girlfriend Y are riding in the car when N begins to cause a commotion in the trunk.

Police find N dead in M's trunk a week later.

At trial Y testified that she was alone in the car with N for a brief period of time with access to a cell phone.

Is Y liable as an accessory to N's death?

Not in the slightest.
Actually, in the case of crime, you are generally considered an accessory if you do not report a crime you know to be in process due to personal connections with the perpetrator or victim. You are not required to intervene, because that would be dangerous in most cases.
 

7331poas

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Actually, in the case of crime, you are generally considered an accessory if you do not report a crime you know to be in process due to personal connections with the perpetrator or victim. You are not required to intervene, because that would be dangerous in most cases.

Then you would be viable for not reporting a crime. Not for being an accessory to murder (or whatever relevant crime would be used in the scenario). I agree that that may be the case.

What I am talking about here is whether medical practitioners are obligated to help a person when there appears to be no risk.

Not reporting a crime is a misdemeanor in many states. A much lesser crime than would be otherwise if we upheld acts of omission as criminal.

I don't have any books on me, but I'll cite some of the cases in talking about if anyone reading wants to look into it.
 
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Mad Jack

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Then you would be viable for not reporting a crime. Not for being an accessory to murder. I agree that that may be the case.

What I am talking about here is whether medical practitioners are obligated to help a person when there appears to be no risk.

Not reporting a crime is a misdemeanor in many states. A much lesser crime than would be otherwise if we upheld acts of omission as criminal.

I don't have any books on me, but I'll cite some of the cases in talking about if anyone reading wants to look into it.
You're still held as an accessory to murder. I'll copy and paste the law later, but the way accessory charges work in n state is you become an accessory to whatever crime was in progress. I've known kids that were charged write accessory felonies for drug distribution because they were hanging out with friends that happened to be dealing drugs and got busted while they were in the house. They failed to report distribution while it was happening in their presence, and were guilty of accessory by complicity for not reporting
 

lNVlNClBLE

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Yes, and I apologize for expressing the sentiment, not for having it. I stand by my original question. Why practice medicine if you don't want to help people?!

I'm an EMT and in my state we have a duty to act even if we're off-work. I know about consent and asking permission before touching the patient.

And I know about scene safety especially in many rough neighborhoods of my corrupt city. The one I live in and the ones I render care in. I guess this woman is one brave cookie and actually wants to go into medicine to help humanity.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with other reasons many pursue the healing professions.

It's rather presumptuous to say that someone does not want to help others because their safety comes first. No one is saying no care would be rendered. We're saying that you should be cautious going into any street situation.

You're an EMT, so surely you've had calls where you questioned scene safety. Does that mean you believe "everyone is out to get you"? No. Think back to your training. What were you taught? Scene safety comes first. And you should be assessing every scene before you go in to render care, regardless if you're in a nice suburban neighborhood vs the projects. You should always have an escape route. Your partner should always have your back. This does NOT mean that you "don't care about helping others" or that you are "unfit to be a physician". The world is a cruel place. Don't turn a blind eye to it because you want to help others. You can do both.
 

M.D.Cole

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Actually......during a first responder course I was told by the law officer teaching the class that if someone has documented training and does not intervene in a situation that you can get in serious trouble. He actually told a story during the class about 2 RN's that refused to help during a medical emergency because they were running late for work and were later prosecuted (I cant remember exactly what the situation was) hell maybe he was messing with us but I don't think he was.
 

Mad Jack

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Actually......during a first responder course I was told by the law officer teaching the class that if someone has documented training and does not intervene in a situation that you can get in serious trouble. He actually told a story during the class about 2 RN's that refused to help during a medical emergency because they were running late for work and were later prosecuted (I cant remember exactly what the situation was) hell maybe he was messing with us but I don't think he was.
He was very likely messing with you. There's no law against not helping using your medical training. In fact, I worked at one hospital where if someone was injured outside of the hospital but not actually on hospital property, we were actually barred from transferring the patient in, as it would open the hospital up to liability for us to move a trauma victim, so we would have to call an ambulance to transfer patients in. Luckily no one ever died from it (to my knowledge), and I believe there was talk in the works to have the policy changed a few years back. Such policies are actually quite common though. Here's an example of a guy straight up dying in a VA because of their policy on not transferring patients or performing advanced treatment until they are officially admitted via ambulance:

http://www.koat.com/news/veteran-dies-waiting-for-ambulance-in-va-hospital-cafeteria/26779446
 
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MDProspect

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Found this on legal match:
Can a Doctor or Physician be held Liable for giving Medical Treatment while Off-Duty?
First of all, a doctor or physician must owe a duty to their patient before they can be held liable for giving medical treatment while off-duty. In the U.S., a doctor has no affirmative duty to provide medical assistance to injured persons if they have not established a special relationship with the individual.

So, for example, if a doctor is off-duty having a meal in a restaurant and a person is injured, they do not actually have a duty to assist that person. If the doctor continues eating their meal, the injured person does not have a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, even if they are harmed. This is because no special relationship has formed yet between the injured person and the doctor.

On the other hand, suppose that the off-duty doctor willingly and knowingly volunteers to assist the injured person. At this point a doctor-patient relationship has been formed. The doctor may then become liable if their medical assistance further injures the patient (for example, if they were negligent during treatment). Or, they may become liable if they volunteer assistance and then abandon the treatment later.

- See more at: http://www.legalmatch.com/law-libra...doctor-or-physician.html#sthash.SMo6d2ox.dpuf
 

LizzyM

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I guess my uncle was lucky that his season ticket at the opera was adjacent to a cardiologist's seat. The cardiologist reached for an AED rather than consult a lawyer and go on enjoying the show. Uncle survived cardiac arrest and is doing well several years later.

If doctors won't assist in emergencies in public places, you can be sure that the mid-levels will be happy to get in on the action and get the glory (what little glory there is; many patients don't survive).
 
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Salt Salt

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1. Why become a doctor if you don't want to help?

2. In this situation, how would anyone know the person walking by was a doctor? Is the doctor wearing a lab coat, scrubs, and an ID with the letters DO or MD behind his or her name?

3. Anyone can dial 911.

4. What are you talking about - how people get set up? Really?! You're more concerned about someone obviously in need possibly faking it to jack you up than you are saving someone's life.

Hmmm...guess you're one of those considering medicine for the money...

Why are you blaming OP so rudely when clearly he/she was asking a hypothetical question? (A hypothetical question that LITERALLY NONE of your four points answered; you gave answers to far easier questions because you didn't know the answer to the OP's question.)


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Mad Jack

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Found this on legal match:
Can a Doctor or Physician be held Liable for giving Medical Treatment while Off-Duty?
First of all, a doctor or physician must owe a duty to their patient before they can be held liable for giving medical treatment while off-duty. In the U.S., a doctor has no affirmative duty to provide medical assistance to injured persons if they have not established a special relationship with the individual.

So, for example, if a doctor is off-duty having a meal in a restaurant and a person is injured, they do not actually have a duty to assist that person. If the doctor continues eating their meal, the injured person does not have a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, even if they are harmed. This is because no special relationship has formed yet between the injured person and the doctor.

On the other hand, suppose that the off-duty doctor willingly and knowingly volunteers to assist the injured person. At this point a doctor-patient relationship has been formed. The doctor may then become liable if their medical assistance further injures the patient (for example, if they were negligent during treatment). Or, they may become liable if they volunteer assistance and then abandon the treatment later.

- See more at: http://www.legalmatch.com/law-libra...doctor-or-physician.html#sthash.SMo6d2ox.dpuf
In the vast majority of states, a physician is covered under some form of Good Samaritan law. Basically, the only way you'd end up getting in trouble is if you did something terribly, horribly negligent in my state- in fact to date, I don't think it's ever happened to a physician bystander, briefly looking through articles on the Good Samaritan clause of my state's legal code.
 
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7331poas

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Found this on legal match:
Can a Doctor or Physician be held Liable for giving Medical Treatment while Off-Duty?
First of all, a doctor or physician must owe a duty to their patient before they can be held liable for giving medical treatment while off-duty. In the U.S., a doctor has no affirmative duty to provide medical assistance to injured persons if they have not established a special relationship with the individual.

So, for example, if a doctor is off-duty having a meal in a restaurant and a person is injured, they do not actually have a duty to assist that person. If the doctor continues eating their meal, the injured person does not have a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, even if they are harmed. This is because no special relationship has formed yet between the injured person and the doctor.

On the other hand, suppose that the off-duty doctor willingly and knowingly volunteers to assist the injured person. At this point a doctor-patient relationship has been formed. The doctor may then become liable if their medical assistance further injures the patient (for example, if they were negligent during treatment). Or, they may become liable if they volunteer assistance and then abandon the treatment later.

- See more at: http://www.legalmatch.com/law-libra...doctor-or-physician.html#sthash.SMo6d2ox.dpuf


Yes exactly. The doctor has to establish guardianship before he can be held liable.
 

MDProspect

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In the vast majority of states, a physician is covered under some form of Good Samaritan law. Basically, the only way you'd end up getting in trouble is if you did something terribly, horribly negligent in my state- in fact to date, I don't think it's ever happened to a physician bystander, briefly looking through articles on the Good Samaritan clause of my state's legal code.
I am aware of the Good Samaritan law. I guess, only the first part of the excerpt was relevant to OP's question.

I wonder what are the rules for medical personal where emergency services aren't available (I.e an airplane or remote village).
 

Mad Jack

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I am aware of the Good Samaritan law. I guess, only the first part of the excerpt was relevant to OP's question.

I wonder what are the rules for medical personal where emergency services aren't available (I.e an airplane or remote village).
Pretty sure you don't need to help. You'd be an ass if you didn't though.
 
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justadream

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Assuming that a doctor/EMT did have a legal duty to help, wouldn't that law be super hard to enforce in reality?

Like couldn't a doctor/EMT claim that they were not feeling well (or had been drinking), thus rendering the doctor/EMT unable to provide competent care?
 

7331poas

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Assuming that a doctor/EMT did have a legal duty to help, wouldn't that law be super hard to enforce in reality?

Like couldn't a doctor/EMT claim that they were not feeling well (or had been drinking), thus rendering the doctor/EMT unable to provide competent care?

That is precisely the problem with negative acts.

Ill take your hypothetical even further

Recall a situation that made the news a few years ago regarding a lady in China who was wounded and screaming for help. A camera caught something like 25 people who walked by without calling for help or attempting to assist the lady in any form.

Now the question for the prosecuter is who exactly is criminally liable. Are the people who walked by criminally liable? How about people who did not see her but might have heard the screams from their apartments or somewhere along the street? How about people who may have met their friend after-the-fact and let them know about the wounded lady on the street, to which the friend replies "Ah well, lets go on with our day".

Are the people who have medical training more liable than those without?

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You guys should look up a case a bit back in 1997 in Nevada regarding a David Cash. In that case he ventured upon a Las Vegas casino bathroom and found a girl bleeding and assaulted. He promptly left the bathroom and did not tell anyone about her condition despite having no risk to his own safety in doing so.

In that case the woman later was found dead. Las Vegas police stated that Cash was not criminal liable for any laws in the state of Nevada for not telling a nearby police guard.

sorry for the spelling this is off my memory and my phone which autocorrects too much
 
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