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When can a medical professional be held liable for emergency aid?

In our last post, we began looking at a recent Ohio case in which it was ruled that the protection offered by Ohio's Good Samaritan statute extends not only to medical professionals offering assistance at the scene of an emergency, but also to ordinary individuals offering any form of emergency assistance.

Although Ohio's Good Samaritan statute does protect medical professionals from liability for offering emergency assistance, this protection is not without limits. Between the statute itself and the body of case law currently surrounding the statute, there are a couple potential situations where a medical professional could face liability for rendering emergency assistance on hospital grounds. 

The first of these is when a medical professional administers emergency treatment or care for compensation, or with the expectation of compensation, from the recipient of emergency care or from someone on behalf of the recipient. The types of situations referenced by the statute are those in which there is no expectation of compensation.

Another important exception to the Good Samaritan protection is when a medical professional's actions at the scene of an emergency constitute "willful or wanton misconduct." This term refers not to professional negligence but to something of greater significant, such as situations where the harm to the patient was the result of intentional or deliberate behavior on the part of the medical professional. Such situations are bound to be rare, but nevertheless can occur.

Those who have been harmed by a medical professional who engaged in serious wrongdoing in connection with offering emergency assistance on hospital grounds should, of course, work with an experienced attorney to seek appropriate compensation. 

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