February 15, 2018
House Committee Advances ASA-Supported Medical Liability Bill
On Wednesday, February 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced an ASA-supported medical liability reform bill intended to protect medical professionals providing care during natural disasters. 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.
Current inconsistencies in 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. This bill 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 Committee for advancing this medical liability bill. Next, H.R. 1876 will be voted on in the House of Representatives.