Tag Archives: Negligent Care

On-duty emergency physicians are liable for damages despite the Good Samaritan Act

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In Illinois, the Good Samaritan Act protects individuals giving instructions for aid, or rendering aid to others in emergencies, from civil liability for damages resulting in the process. Simply stated, a bystander or passerby who sees someone with an injury or emergency condition does not have a legal duty to stop and give general or medical aid. Moreover, a passerby who stops to assist and render some type of aid, cannot be sued and found liable for civil damages if the endangered individual suffers and injury or dies in the process. The purpose of the Good Samaritan Act is to allow people to try to save a choking victim without worrying about a wrongful death suit if they are not successful.

The Good Samaritan Act includes a physician exemption from civil liability for emergency care. The statute states in pertinent part: “Any person licensed under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 or any person licensed to practice the treatment of human ailments in any other state or territory of the United States who, in good faith, provides emergency care without fee to a person, shall not, as a result of his or her acts or omissions, except willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person, in providing the care, be liable for civil damages.[i]

While the language of the statute is clear, there question has arisen, what happens when the emergency care physician is not providing health care for a direct fee, but rather works as an on-duty physician.

The Illinois Supreme Court holds that the Good Samaritan Act does not shield on-duty physicians who do not bill for their services, and on-duty physicians have the same standard of care regardless of whether they bill for their services. The issue arose in a case involving an on-duty emergency room physician, responding to a “code blue” for a patient with trouble breathing and swallowing. The doctor intubated the patient and opened the airway, and nevertheless the patient experienced permanent brain damage.[ii] The doctor working as an emergency room physician when the “code blue” was called for a patient on another floor of the hospital, whom the doctor had never previously met or treated.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court held in the case, the emergency room physician responding to the “code blue” for a hospital patient, the immunity from liability under the Good Samaritan Act did not apply because the doctor’s services were not performed “without fee” where the doctor was paid to work in the emergency room.[iii]

If the facts had been different, this court could have applied the Good Samaritan Act. Assume a different set of facts where the doctor was not on-duty, working as an emergency physician at the time he responded to the “code blue” for the patient on another floor, separate from the emergency room. Assume the same treatment was given, the doctor intubated the patient, who experienced permanent brain damage, there would have been a more likely chance the doctor may have been able to be clear of civil liability under the Good Samaritan Act.

As new events and occurrences give rise to litigation over health care liability, the courts will decide those cases and the health care law and litigation firm of Michael V. Favia and Associates will share those holdings.

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist with analysis and advice on all aspects of physician practice and litigation matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

 

[i] Illinois Good Samaritan Act, Sec. 25 Physicians, 745 ILCS 49/25

[ii] Beckers Hospital Review, Illinois Supreme Court: Good Samaritan Act Doesn’t Shield On-Duty Emergency Physicians, by Ayla Ellison, Apr. 29, 2014.

[iii] Home Star Bank & Financial Services v. Emergency Care & Health Organization, Ltd., 2012 IL App (1st) 112321

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How do I spot and address nursing home neglect?

Keep in mind and be on the lookout for signs of nursing home neglect.

Keep in mind and be on the lookout for signs of nursing home neglect.

Too often nowadays adult children are busy working and raising families and must rely on senior care and nursing home facilities to care for their aging parents. As costs of care facilities are on the rise and budgets are being cut there are fewer healthcare professionals spending less time with our moms and dads in their care. What is more concerning is the possibility of fraud and abuse against our parents, whether that abuse be financial, emotional or physical. Nursing and senior care operations have a duty to provide care and not abuse and neglect the residents.

When abuse and neglect occurs, it can lead to damages including injury and death. Health law and litigation law firms such as ours advocate and enforce family members’ rights to the level of care and service that should be provided to our loved ones.

It is important to pay close attention to the facility and staff providing care for your loved one. If you know what signs to look for you may be better able to direct your attention and efforts to ensure the best level of care is given. Would you know what to do if your mother or father complained of mistreatment in a nursing home? Do you know if the facility is properly dispensing medications as prescribed? How could you detect a problem if your loved one is not naturally able to identify or report a problem or lack of care?

Keep in mind and be on the lookout for signs of nursing home neglect:

  • Medical: How well is your loved one’s medicine chart maintained and how can you verify that all the medications are being properly consumed? Consider whether enough attention is given to current medical conditions and preventing them from becoming worse. Where physical therapy and exercise is a part of a health plan, make sure the opportunities are present and engaged.
  • Personal Hygiene: You can often tell how well an individual is really being cared for when their hygiene and grooming is considered. Is your loved one being dressed properly and receiving a proper level of dignified care? If the staff does not care how the patients look, you might start asking some questions.
  • Emotional and Social: Make sure the staff has a good relationships with your loved one. Ask questions to see what kind of things are discussed and whether family is brought up or discussed. Does mom or dad ask about their family or when people are coming by? Especially when dementia may be a factor in the socialization of an elderly parent, it is important to always make sure people are treated with respect and proper emotional attention.
  • Basic Needs: Look to see if your loved one has any necessary restrictions to mobility or assisted mobility devices and is everything set up correctly. Find out about meals and how restricted and special diets are managed. Look around at other patients you observe because what may be experienced by one resident could be true for the others.

If you are concerned your loved one is not receiving proper care and treatment in a senior community or nursing home and you fear there might be a neglect problem, you can always ask for our help. You may not need to go so far as to file a lawsuit to achieve a desired result. Often we can work with care facilities to address problems and help find solutions to elder care concerns.

If you are interested in learning more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, serving Chicago and its suburban communities, please visit the Favia Law Firm website for resources and articles of interest. To contact the firm to speak to a lawyer about a healthcare-related concern, you may dial (773) 631-4580. For more information about the firm’s practice areas, you can also visit the firm’s Facebook and Twitter sites. Please “Like” and “Follow” respectively to keep in touch!