January 18, 2018
House Subcommittee Advances ASA-Supported Medical Liability Bill
On January 17, 2018, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health passed an ASA-supported medical liability reform bill intended to protect medical professionals providing care during natural disasters. The bill, H.R. 1876, the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, will shield health care professionals from liability when they volunteer their services during a federally-declared disaster. The bill earned Republican and Democratic support and passed by a voice vote.
ASA is aware that, in the past, physician anesthesiologists have sought to provide assistance to victims of disasters. Large-scale disasters that have become more prevalent, including wildfires and hurricanes, highlight the need to ensure that medical professionals who seek to lend their expertise and assistance to victims of these natural disasters are not turned away or limited in the scope of their assistance because of the threat of medical liability lawsuits.
Inconsistencies in current federal and state laws could subject medical professionals and licensed health care providers to unjust medical liability lawsuits when they volunteer their services to disaster victims. The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2017 would help protect medical volunteers from such lawsuits during a federally-declared disaster, and ensure that vital health care services often provided by medical volunteers remain available – all while respecting existing medical liability laws in individual states.
ASA applauds the Subcommittee’s efforts to advance this medical liability bill. Next, H.R. 1876 will be considered by the full committee.