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Can I Get Sued For Performing CPR?


If you ever wondered whether it’s possible to get sued if you do CPR without a CPR certification, you’re in the right place. It is necessary that we look at the legal and ethical dimensions of doing CPR. American Health Care Academy’s CPR certifications are nationally accepted and mean that you don’t have to think twice about saving a life again. This post details some of the legal issues around performing CPR and what consequences can exist.

You may feel compelled to act quickly in some situations in order to save someone’s life. What happens if you accidentally cause damage to the person you were attempting to aid in one of these scenarios? In order to protect those who selflessly step in to provide life-saving CPR to those in need, good Samaritan laws have been enacted in many places.

Good Samaritan Laws

Under these laws, legal protection is provided to those who aid people who are injured, ill, in danger, or otherwise unable to help themselves. This is done in order to minimize any hesitation someone may feel before helping, because they are afraid of being sued or prosecuted for wrongful death.

Therefore, it is safe to say that anywhere there are Good Samaritan laws in place, a bystander would not face serious legal repercussions if they were to step in to use their life-saving knowledge. However, since Good Samaritan laws vary across jurisdictions, the true answer to the question becomes rather nuanced, although generally bystanders who perform CPR in a life-threatening situation are protected because their intentions are altruistic.

The majority of the time, you must obtain permission before doing CPR on someone who is not currently in your custody. If the person is in such a state that they are unable to respond, then consent is assumed.

When the Good Samaritan Law Does Not Apply

You will not be protected by Good Samaritan laws if you try to go outside your area of training—if you try to perform an impromptu tracheotomy to save a choking victim, for example, and you are not a trained surgeon. You may also be held liable if your actions are seen to be reckless or negligent, or if you abandon the victim after offering initial assistance.

If someone has a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order that specifies lifesaving care must not be provided in case of a sudden cardiac arrest or another health crisis, you must do as it says and avoid giving CPR—if you know about the DNR, of course. Generally, if you are not aware of it, you wouldn’t be charged for performing life-saving CPR on someone who is unconscious.

CPR & Law

What About the Basics of First Aid

Medical professionals and lay rescuers frequently inquire as to whether they can be sued for providing first aid. You cannot be arrested for providing first aid to someone who is in need, and you are not obligated to do it if doing so makes you feel uncomfortable. This is the general consensus.

Make a point of acting in good faith and using common sense if you ever find yourself in a scenario where someone may require CPR or other first assistance.

For example, consider a person going through cardiac arrest. He or she loses consciousness about 20 seconds after cardiac arrest. Without therapy, mortality risk jumps seven to 10% every minute. Brain damage happens after five minutes. After 10 minutes, resuscitation is unlikely. Thus, the victim may likely die without CPR. CPR improves survival chances, even if it’s not flawless.

When to Stop CPR

When you agree to help those in need as a volunteer, it is your obligation to see the mission through to its conclusion. You can’t just quit performing CPR whenever you feel like it. This is extreme carelessness, and as a result, you are not covered by the Good Samaritan laws.

Ultimately, being sued depends on where and who you are. The 2000 Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act protects CPR and AED users from civil liability, save in cases of deliberate wrongdoing or gross negligence. State-by-state Good Samaritan statutes exist. They primarily safeguard those who perform CPR and AED. Some states require CPR or medical professionals to intervene. Bystanders in Vermont must provide “reasonable help” or risk a $100 fine.

Next time you wonder if you would face legal trouble for performing CPR or any emergency procedure on a victim, maximize your chances of success with AHCA. We uphold the same standards and quality of CPR training as the Red Cross and similar providers, while offering you the most convenient and user-friendly courses. Our CPR and healthcare courses are accredited by multiple agencies across the country and follow the guidelines set by the American Heart Association.

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