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The danger of 'getting involved'.

Discussion in 'First Aid Station' started by knestle, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. knestle

    knestle Banned

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    As many people learn the hard way, 'It's a litigious society out there.'.

    Almost everyone is good at heart and wants to help out when there's a problem.

    But you should think about the downside of going to the aid if someone injured in either an auto or industrial accident.

    Even doctors, nurses and trained EMT's get sued every day for actions taken while 'on the job' and administering professional care.

    Where does that leave the untrained/non certified good samaritan who steps in and offers aid on the street?

    I'll just skip over all the possible legal and financial hassals that can occur, and get straight to my personal philosophy.

    Unless it's a family member, or a very close friend, I'm going to turn around and walk the other way while dialing 911.

    If for some reason I just can't resist getting involved, I'll do as much as I can, and then get the hell out before the authorities arrive.
    "Who was that masked man." is the only sensible approach.

    If I hang around and talk to cops and EMT's I'll waste a lot of time and get sucked into 'the system' for later processing.
    Absolute minimum, someone's insurance company is going to want to talk to me, and if there is ANY problem at all lawyerman and the lawsuites aren't very far away.

    So, if you are inclined to trundle around a FAK suitable for a MASH unit, that's your privelige, but think about what the consequences might be before actually getting involved in something outside your own person or your family.

    If you put a band aid on a co-worker's cut finger, and it gets infected, you're liable. Give him the band aid, let him put it on.

    A guy I worked with told me this story.
    He witnessed two cars drag racing across a bridge. One of the drivers lost control and went off the bridge.
    He dived in, pulled the unconscious driver from the car, dislocating his own shoulder in the process.
    With a dislocated shoulder he pulled the guy on shore and administered CPR. saving the guys life. A real hero.
    Lawyerman got involved and the driver sued his rescuer for injuries sustained while being extracted from his sunken car.
    This guy had 17 court appearances in three years(causing the loss of two jobs), had already paid $20,000 in legal fees, and was still involved in litigation!
    He told me that every day for the past two years he wished he had walked away and let the guy drown.

    I know, it sucks BIG TIME, but that's the society the lawyers have created for us.
     
  2. RacerX

    RacerX Loaded Pockets

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    I've saved 3 lives in my time, none of them documented because of this very reason. I have the same "masked man" approach as you do.
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Loaded Pockets

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    Not to mention many first aid situations are high risk for transmitting some pretty wretched diseases.
     
  4. steve46nw2

    steve46nw2 Loaded Pockets

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    Wow.I drive up and down the I-15 everyday and come across alot of "situations".The suit factor really weighs heavy on my mind each and every time I stop to provide service to complete strangers..I have yet to come across a situation where Fire or EMT's haven't secured a scene or hauled off injured peeps.Stories like your friend are frequently heard around my yard and are scrutinized to figure out how to avoid :censored: like that..The price we pay to live in a capitalist society. Someone's gotta figure out a way how to screw someone out of money somehow... :-X
     
  5. cde

    cde Empty Pockets

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    How could he have not just said that very thing to a jury and be done with it?

    Additionally, that sounds like the background story of "The Incredibles",
     
  6. Flight-ER-Doc

    Flight-ER-Doc Loaded Pockets

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    If you're worried about it then don't stop. Legally (morally might be another issue but thats between you and whatever you believe in) you're not required to stop and provide aid (in most places).

    I've taught a lot of people CPR. The beginners usually have some concern and I tell them that whatever they do can only improve the person they're working on, technically they ARE DEAD, and the only direction for them to go is an improvement. As a bystander, if you want to get involved look around and see if there is anyone more qualified or capable than you - if so, help them, if not, do the best you can.

    Having said that, back in the dawn of time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a paramedic I was sued for malpractice - along with my partner, my agency, my captain, the people that trained me and my partner, the state law enforcement agency, two hospitals, a school district, the US Government, the water board, and a few doctors and nurses. Yet, as I was awake many nights thinking about what I did I can honestly say that had I not intervened the individual would have remained dead, and that what I did was absolutely, without a doubt exactly the right thing to do at the time. I haven't been sued yet, as a physician, and hope not to be - I lost a lot of sleep over it, even though ultimately things were in my favor.
     
  7. Synaptic Misfire
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Synaptic Misfire Loaded Pockets

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    Fortunately some places actually have civil protections for first responders and good samaritans. Check your local laws but here is an overview.

    Good Samaritan Laws
     
  8. Mitchell

    Mitchell Loaded Pockets

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    The legal issues can certainly produce some odd results. My ex-wife is an critical care nurse and we were on a trip (during a hot, humid summer) when an older gentleman collapsed. We went to see what had happened and he had a pulse but wasn't breathing. My ex-wife told me to start doing mouth to mouth. That wasn't the time to argue and to make a long story short, the guy started breathing on his own and all turned out OK.

    Afterwords I asked her, why was I the one doing the mouth to mouth? After all, she was ACLS, TNCC and a bunch of other things and I'd just had a couple of CPR classes at work. She told me that if she touched the guy, her license was on the line. If I touched him, the Good Samaritan laws covered me. Wierd. :idiot2:

    That reminds me though, I should start a thread about airway masks.
     
  9. Mr. Henk

    Mr. Henk Empty Pockets

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    I've never been in such a situation myself, but I would do whatever I can to help somebody who is in serious trouble or injured. In the Netherlands we don't have the kind of "sue you' mentality, even if we did it's a lot harder to actually sue somebody. And if you do end up in court, your case will be judged by judges, not by random idiots.
     
  10. Flight-ER-Doc

    Flight-ER-Doc Loaded Pockets

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    And any lawyer in the US will try and prove that you acted wtih reckless disregard for the accepted standard of care of a person with your level of experience and training (I've been an expert witness in a few trials like this). Or that you had some sort of duty to act, which make the GS laws inapplicable.
     
  11. Andy_L

    Andy_L Loaded Pockets

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    In the UK she as a nurse would have a legal duty of care and could end up in a lot of trouble if she didn't offer to help. First aiders wouldn't as they don't have this duty of care.
     
  12. jfirebalrog

    jfirebalrog Empty Pockets

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    There are a lot of grey areas with the good samaritan laws. In my state it covers providers up to their level of training,and there is also a duty to act.Nurses in general are very worried about their lic., many have been scared to inaction by hospital admin.,school,and staff legal advisors. In my state ems operates under a physician's license with a strict set of protocols which are only to be used while on duty.So there is a huge grey area for EMS providers we are required to provide assistance but it is unclear what level of care we are allowed to provide and many of us won't wear ems related clothing and use ems license plates/bumper stickers hoping to keep a low profile.It's horrible to say, but you have to decide whether it's worth everything you own to help someone :brickwall:
     
  13. landwire
    • In Omnia Paratus

    landwire Loaded Pockets

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    As a Scout leader, every year I grow increasingly uneasy about teaching the kids the basic first aid that is found in the Boy Scout Handbook. Several First Aid merit badge counselors have been willing to come in and teach the basics. Last thing I want is for one of my scouts to be sued for providing help and then me being sued because I taught the scout.
     
  14. TrulySovereign

    TrulySovereign Empty Pockets

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    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...and this is what saddens me is that we have un-evolved to a nation [here in the US] that seems to be looking for the easy $$$$$. What happened to the days of helping your neighbors or helping an old lady across the street???

    Now we are to fearful to do much of anything for fear of being SUED!!!! I can only speak for myself, but as a VET, I find this shameful on our part, bad things are going to happen in life no matter what we try to do, but we need not punish people that are there to help others. I believe that as a whole most if not all people are of a good and morale heart, take Katrina for an example, they were turning away volunteers!!! We should not fear each other, but understand that people are by nature wired to care about others and humanity as a whole, my feeling is that we have been trained to FEAR things. The media is always touting something new for us to fear so that we may go out and but X product to "Keep Us SAFE"

    I know my rant may be a little "Off Topic", but is it??? We are here because we EDC things, but why do we EDC these items??? Is it to "Be Prepared?" What are we preparing for if in this case where someones life may be in jeapordy, and YOU are the one there with the medical goods that may save their life, but are afraid of being sued for TRYING TO HELP!!!! Maybe we need to ask ourselves what has changed in the world in the past 20-30 years that now we should be AFRAID of helping a fellow human being who's life may very well depend upon our "Being Prepared"

    Just my 2c

    Nemo

    :brickwall:
     
  15. alex fekete

    alex fekete Loaded Pockets

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    :mad: What frustrates me even more is that the same folks who are so quick to sue are among those of us that complain about how expensive healthcare can cost. If you sue a doctor or hospital it costs them money, the malpractice insurance costs them money, do people honestly believe that the doctors and medical facilities are just going to eat those expenses? No, they will pass the savings on to the rest of us who will have to pay more for our healthcare to cover that $100,000 settlement for someones stubbed toe or whatever happened. I know this started out talking about us everyday folks helping, but this really sticks in my craw and it's even worse that people are going after the "average joe" who just wanted to help.
     
  16. TrulySovereign

    TrulySovereign Empty Pockets

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    Alex,

    I hear what you are saying and I share your frustration. I know this is not the place for this discussion [this topic at least], I am putting together a post about this as a question to all EDC'ers here, because I believe that this is a point of critical mass in our history [not just this issue either]. Not to mention something that needs to be dsussed openly and not something that many [myself included] should no longer keep to themselves.

    Nemo
     
  17. EDC Jon

    EDC Jon Empty Pockets

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    A couple of points I would like to toss in:

    Everyone is quick to blame "the lawyers." However, lawyers don't sue people without a client.

    Anyone can get sued for anything, anytime. Anything can be argued before the tribunal. The relevant question is if the action is successful or not.

    This is about the smartest thing I have read in a long time: "Maybe we need to ask ourselves what has changed in the world in the past 20-30 years that now we should be AFRAID of helping a fellow human being who's life may very well depend upon our "Being Prepared"

    Good point, Nemo.
     
  18. lynnaea

    lynnaea Empty Pockets

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    :iagree:

    You beat me to it. If you believe in the axiom that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," then it's safe to say that "lawyers don't sue people, people sue people."

    I wish people understood how many times I have had to restrain myself from beating a client who refused to settle a case when they should have. I know not all lawyers are saints, but most of them are good people just earning a living the same as everyone else. Some people will sue when it's not logical and when they have no case (or a poor one). Even if there's no financial incentive they will say that "it's the principle of the matter." (Which is the stupidest thing I've ever heard, and yet if I had a nickel for every time I heard it...)

    :topic:
     
  19. Flight-ER-Doc

    Flight-ER-Doc Loaded Pockets

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    Right. The problem is the only people who are guaranteed to come out ahead in any lawsuit are the judges, the court employees, and the lawyers. You guys always get paid, so there is no downside in taking marginal cases. Even if you guys take a case on spec, how many still charge expenses to the loser? And when you win (ask John Edwards) you win BIG...He made his first million$ suing for kids born with CP - thanks to him the C-section rate in the US is steadily increasing because of his ability to confuse 12 dumb people. No change in the rate of CP, btw.....the causes are NOT OB's. In many places, good luck finding an OB/GYN if you're pregnant, especially if it's at all high-risk.

    And thanks to Larry H. Parker and his misbegotten ilk, everyone thinks that anything less than perfect is a personal tragedy. I know a neurosurgeon (classmate of mine) who lived and worked in Florida - and actually took trauma calls (emergency trauma cases requiring neurosurgery). He was always being sued for malpractice - by patients he tried to help. Patients who would get drunk, crash their motorcycles or cars while going 100+ MPH, and when they were not restored to better than before condition by the surgeon, it had to be his fault. And there are lawyers who circle the sewers waiting for these cases....

    My friend doesn't live in Florida any more (he moved to Texas, where the tort laws are a bit better), and doesn't do trauma call at all any more (like most neurosurgeons in Florida). The final straw was when his malpractice insurance premium went up to twice what he made the previous year (which is typical for S. Florida). Too bad when a lawyer's family out riding in their car is hit by one of those drunks, and they need emergency surgery: I think there is one neurosurgeon left in S. Florida that will take the call...if he's busy, TFB. Who you going to sue then?

    Fortunately, I've never been sued since I became a physician. I still pay crazy malpractice premiums, though, because of the courts (run by lawyers), laws (written by lawyers) and the lawyers.

    And most of the people in my family, growing up, were lawyers. Glad I resisted the dark force.

    Want to reduce the cost of health care? Fix the tort system.
     
  20. Jeff

    Jeff Empty Pockets

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    Almost no lawyers charge their clients a dime if they lose a contingency case. So, how many doctors still charge even if the patient dies? For incorrect diagnoses? For ineffective treatments? For iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment) injuries?

    Actually, Florida has undergone comprehensive tort reform, with all sorts of special procedures, hurdles and limitations, just for medical malpractice cases. It is very hard to even get into court, expensive to litigate, and both recovery and attorney fees are restricted. Only the most horrendous cases are worth pursuing. Basically, if you're significantly injured or disabled by provable medical malpractice in FL, but your injury isn't totally devastating (say, paralysis of your left arm and hand v. complete paralysis) good luck! Just chronic, lifelong pain? You're screwed. Retired, so loss of potential income? Too bad. Also, if you're just killed outright, tough luck!

    There's a lot of myth-information and spin on this issue, but Florida today isn't the place to go for jackpot med-mal jury awards. Rising nsurance premiums tend to reflect under-performance of returns on invested premiums and increased profit-taking, more than it does any increased claims losses by insurers, because the number and total amount of med-mal jury awards has remained flat or declined for at least a decade.

    The very real abuses and excesses of the past within the legal system have, for the most part, been amended. Yet medical errors still kill roughly twice as many Americans as traffic collisions, every year. Wanna know the odds that your doctor doesn't even properly wash his hands or clean his stethoscope between contacting his or her last patient and contacting you? Wanna know how many patients die of those wholly preventable "hospital acquired" infections every year, and what that costs in dollars? But, hey, it's easier to look outside and blame "greedy lawyers"than to look within and fix the things that keep hurting patients or driving up costs unnecessarily.

    Yeah, if you totally eliminated, not just reformed (again) all costs associated with med-mal tort claims, that would save about 1.5% of the cost of health care in the U.S.