Good Samaritan Legislation Passes House Committee
On February 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), advanced three bipartisan bills to the House of Representatives for consideration. In particular, the committee passed H.R. 1876, the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2017, which helps protect health care professionals who volunteer their services when a major emergency arises. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has continually advocated for this legislation and applauds members of Congress for advancing this important measure. Specifically, H.R. 1876 provides clear liability protections to licensed health care professionals who volunteer health care services to victims during a declared national disaster. Notably, the legislation respects existing medical liability laws and does not protect providers in cases of willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, or reckless misconduct.
“Collectively, each of these bills exemplify the hard-working, bipartisan nature of this committee,” said Walden after the vote. “Today, we capitalized on an opportunity to make meaningful reforms to our public health efforts and for health care professionals serving our communities, to provide certainty to our manufacturers, and to increase transparency and accountability at the FCC.”
“Recent federally-declared disasters have highlighted the need for medical professionals who wish to assist those affected and that they not be turned away or limited in the scope of their assistance due to a potential medical liability lawsuit,” stated AAOS and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) in a letter to the committee. “While current state and federal laws provide some level of liability protections for licensed health care professionals, this legislation would fill remaining gaps and ensure that vital health care services – often provided by medical volunteers – remain available, all while respecting existing medical liability laws in individual states. Again, the AAOS and OTA applaud your committee’s interest in this important issue and we look forward to working with you to ensure final passage in the House of Representatives.”
Read the full letter online here.