October 01, 2018
House Passes ASA-Supported Medical Liability Bill
On Tuesday, September 25, the House of Representatives passed an ASA-supported medical liability reform bill intended to protect medical professionals providing care during natural disasters. The provision was included in the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation (PAPAA) Act, H.R. 6378, and earned Republican and Democratic support passing by a voice vote. The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act will shield health care professionals from liability when they volunteer their services during a federally-declared disaster.
In the past, physician anesthesiologists have sought to provide assistance to victims of disasters, such as large-scale disasters that have become more prevalent, including wildfires and hurricanes. This highlights 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 House of Representatives for advancing this medical liability provision. Next, H.R. 6378 will be voted on in the Senate. Earlier this month, ASA members sent nearly 650 letters to their Senators asking for the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act provisions to be included in the final Senate bill.