Sunday, January 3, 2016

Do Emergency Medical Technicians have legal protection?

Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics are not perfect. No matter how hard these men and women try, a mistake might happen. In a given year, a medic could be part of nearly three thousand emergency scenes. No one can have a success rate of 3000 to 1. 

Sadly our world is full of litigation happy lawyers and citizens. At times, it can feel like there is no legal protection for EMT and Paramedics in the United States. So do rookies in the field need to establish a relationship with one of the local lawyers. Thankfully there are a few legal matters and actions that protect people who work in EMS.

They are the actions of the medic on scene, the Good Samaritan Law, the Sovereign Immunity, and the Stature of limitations.

The Stature of limitations claims that a patient only has a certain about of time to file a negligence claim against the ambulance company or EMS personnel. The Sovereign Immunity clause prevents persons treated by governmental operated EMS systems from suing the government. Good Samaritan law provides liability immunity for emergency scene acts done in good faith unless gross negligence is involved. 

The key word is gross negligence. An EMT or Paramedic must render care to the best of their ability. They must act within the scope of practice and within their standard of care. EMS personnel must behave in a professional manner. EMT and Paramedics must be covered by adequate liability insurance.

The next couple of posts I will be discussing the legal obligations, ethics and morals of an Emergency Medical Technician. I don't bring up the subject to scare people away from becoming another member of the Emergency Medical team but to keep people informed.

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