Good Samaritan Professionals Act Introduced in U. S. House of Representatives
Bill Offers Protections for Medical Volunteers and Preserves Patient Access to Care
(Rockville, MD, April 28, 2023)—Medical Professional Liability (MPL) Association President and CEO Brian K. Atchinson issued the following statement about
the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 25 by Congressmen Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN) and Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA):
“Congress had the foresight to enact, through the CARES Act, limited civil liability protections for medical volunteers responding to the outbreak. These protections, however, will not help volunteers responding to future public health emergencies or disasters.
The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act would provide civil liability protections to licensed healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and skills in times of crisis. The bill also would preserve a victim’s access to compensation if an injury is the result of willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the patient.
During the pandemic and in the wake of recent natural disasters, physicians, nurses, and others have stepped in to volunteer their medical services, sometimes crossing state lines to offer access to quality, timely medical care. Unfortunately, these professionals are not adequately protected by federal law from medical liability lawsuits. Additionally, the current patchwork of state laws designed to encourage medical volunteerism compound the problem by being ambiguous and inconsistent, especially when applied to large-scale disasters. This could mean that vital medical volunteers are forced to limit their services or even punished for providing care at a time when their help is most needed.
The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act would resolve this conundrum by providing healthcare volunteers with limited protection from lawsuits during federal disasters and public health emergencies.
We applaud Congressman Bucshon and Congressman Ruiz for introducing this measure. The MPL Association will continue to build bipartisan support in Congress in order to pave a path forward for the enactment of this important measure.”