Heroism Shouldn’t Be Discouraged by Legal Concerns
There is legislation – the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act – moving through the U.S. Senate right now that is essential in reauthorizing critical programs improving our public health infrastructure and response capabilities whenever an emergency occurs, last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast still being all too fresh in our memories. There is a provision in this measure that deserves highlighting.
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee included language from the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act. The Good Samaritan legislation essentially protects medical volunteers who offer their services during a large-scale disaster from lawsuits. When a tornado, hurricane, or even a major pandemic strikes, we want physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to rush to the scene and provide their healing expertise to victims. Due to inconsistencies in federal and state medical liability laws, though, these volunteers risk being turned away or having their assistance limited because of lawsuit concerns.
This legislation ensures that our priorities are in the right place – making sure that people in urgent circumstances receive the help they desperately need. This legislation had bipartisan support in the House and we look forward to it receiving the same level of backing in the U.S. Senate. The legislation must pass both houses before September 30.