Legal Question in Medical Malpractice in New York

Does the good samaritan law apply to doctors in NY?

I was recently on a flight that was already decending into an airport in NY when there was a medical emergency onboard. They asked for a doctor and I volunteered my services. It was a serious situation, there was not much on board to help, but thankfully we landed soon thereafter and the passenger/patient recovered. Afterward, some colleagues told me that there was no longer a good samaritan law in the state of NY for physicians and therefore in a similar situation, they would not have responded in that situation. Is this true? And where can I learn more about the history, evolution and current status of this law in New York?

Asked on 9/28/04, 2:16 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Louis Venezia Law Offices of Louis Venezia at Union Square, P.C.

Re: Does the good samaritan law apply to doctors in NY?

The "Good Samaritan Law" is alive and well in New York. Education Law 6527. If you would like me to send you a copy, just leave a message at my office with your e-mail address or fax number. That Law provides protection for good Samaritans like yourself just as it has from the day the legislation was passed. It is always upsetting to observe lawyers who are willing to give advice without ever looking up the law. It is even more upsetting that the propaganda fostered by insurance companies has convinced members of the medical profession that they should not help those in need. Fear is the mind killer - and insurance companies have been praying upon the fears of the public and the members of the medical profession for years. I am always astounded to see sophisticated physicians refusing to admit a mistake just to save their insurance company money while they spend days at depositions or at trial only to end up with a verdict against them or a settlement that could have been made years earlier.

As a good Samaritan, you may wish to inform your colleagues that when they obtain advice from a lawyer, they should either get it in writing or ask for a copy of the decision/statute that is involved.

From this good Samaritan who is willing to take the time to provide legal advice on this web site, to another good Samaritan who was willing to provide medical services to someone who needed it, I congratulate you on doing what was right to do.

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Answered on 9/29/04, 8:44 pm

Re: Does the good samaritan law apply to doctors in NY?

You should check with your NY State Licensing Board; your governing Board of Ethics; and your insurance carrier or underwriter, to provide you with the applicable Rules, Laws and Statutues governing the "Good Samartan law" and other items that will be of interest to you. You probably can call them or obtain info from their Web sites.

Also, consider having your lawyer review your (or devise a) general release and disclosure form, that your can use even in emergency situations.

Please remember, that in our litigious society,

there is no way we can always avoid trouble or the possibilty of suit. The Best we can do, is our best... Live defensively...., and try to do no harm, right?

Good luck,

Phroska L. McAlister,ESQ

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Answered on 9/28/04, 9:02 pm

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