House Subcommittee Advances Good Samaritan Legislation
On January 17, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health 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.
Although existing laws provide some protection, the U.S. volunteer system has unaddressed gaps that hinder rapid response, particularly in the event of a wide-scale disaster. Especially in light of recent events, including the hurricanes that hit Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Puerto Rico, broad-based protections that allow health care volunteers to safely deploy across state lines are imperative. The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2017 will ensure health care professionals are able to volunteer their services during a disaster without the threat of lawsuits.
The bill will next be considered by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee. Again, AAOS thanks subcommittee members and urges Congress to quickly move this legislation.