Can I be sued for performing CPR?
Can I be sued for performing CPR? This is a question we often get asked as first aid & CPR instructors.
According to the American Heart Association, if a bystander performs CPR on a casualty immediately after a sudden cardiac arrest, he or she may double or even triple the person’s chance of survival!
However, victims of cardiac arrest receive CPR from bystanders only 32 percent of the time. The reasons are typically legal, moral, behavioural or ethical factors and they make a person unwilling to perform CPR on a victim.
One of the top reasons for bystanders not performing CPR is that they are concerned about their personal safety. Their reasoning has nothing to do with legal restrictions. They are simply afraid that they may be mugged if the victim is “faking it” or they could catch an infectious disease by performing rescue breaths.
The chances of catching an infectious disease from rescue breathing are very low, You can, however, use a barrier such as a CPR face shield while giving rescue breaths or instead perform “hands only” CPR.
Some people fear that they might injure the victim even further or they may not be good enough in performing the technique and that they may be sued for performing CPR on a victim.
However, there is no federal law that governs this issue. In fact, if you are able to provide medical assistance through CPR or first aid during an emergency situation such as after a sudden cardiac arrest, the Good Samaritan Laws will guard you.
You need to act carefully and reasonably, however. For example, in case there is voluntary misconduct or the rescuer is reckless, careless, and negligent or has left the victim alone after providing initial care, the Good Samaritan law will not apply.
Note that a bystander has no legal obligation towards helping a person in an emergency situation. However, certain states such as Vermont and Minnesota require bystanders to provide reasonable assistance by at least calling emergency medical help. If you do not help a victim in Minnesota you may be charged with a petty crime and in Vermont, you may get a fine of up to $100.
All US states have the Good Samaritan Law that protects those who perform CPR without negligence and voluntary misconduct.
Disclaimer: We’re not lawyers and don’t specialise in providing legal advice. Please do your own research and contact a legal professional if in doubt.