Pediatricians unwittingly may expose themselves to liability when responding to hospital “Code Blue” alerts.
Not surprisingly, many patients involved in Code Blue situations have poor outcomes, and patients or their families may bring medical malpractice claims against the physicians involved in the resuscitation attempts. In such cases, several factors may affect pediatricians’ potential liability.
All states have enacted some form of Good Samaritan law designed to encourage prompt emergency care by granting health care providers legal immunity and removing the fear of liability. Generally, when an individual with no pre-existing duty to do so voluntarily provides emergency assistance to a victim, the volunteer is shielded from legal claims of negligence. However, states’ application of Good Samaritan protections to physicians varies widely.
The first question in determining whether a Good Samaritan statute will protect a pediatrician is whether the pediatrician had a pre-existing duty to provide emergency care. Courts have found...