CAN IMPROPER CPR LEAD TO A LAWSUIT?
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, known popularly as CPR, is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when a person’s heart stops beating. Keeping the blood flow active extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrives.
There are two commonly known versions of CPR:
- chest compressions combined with mouth=to-mouth breathing
- hands-Only CPR
The Mayo Clinic offers advice covering three possibilities:
- If you’re untrained OR you are trained but your skills are rusty, provide hands-only with 100-120 chest compressions a minute until help arrives.
- If you’re trained and ready, first check for pulse and breathing; if none, begin 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths
Should you jump in and attempt CPR? Definitely, advises the CDC. In fact, If CPR is performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, it can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.
But won’t I be in danger of being sued if I try to help by performing CPR and the person I was trying to help gets worse or dies?
“It is important for lay rescuers to know that they do not have to fear a lawsuit if they give CPR. No lay rescuer has ever been successfully sued for performing CPR because lay rescuers are ‘Good Samaritans’ and are protected by Good Samaritan’ laws,“ the American Heart Association points out.
Under the Indiana Good Samaritan laws, you cannot be sued for helping out in good faith, but you are not obligated to help and cannot be sued for failure to help. In Indiana, in fact, ambulance attendants and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) are also protected – unless they are considered negligent.
If an individual who received proper CPR training, and who was serving in a rescue or emergency response capacity, performs improper CPR for one reason or another, they could be held responsible by victims who suffer physical damages at their hands. If a victim could have been saved had adequate CPR been performed, but instead they perished as a direct result of improper CPR techniques, then the victim’s family has the option of seeking damages via a lawsuit in compensation for their trauma and loss.
Some elderly or terminally ill patients have officially stipulated that they do not want CPR performed. Medical professionals who give CPR to people with a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order can potentially be in trouble—if they know about the DNR.
Can a medical professional be sued for performing CPR that did not save the patient? Yes, but,,, as we explain to our Ramey & Hailey personal injury clients. A patient (or a patient’s survivors) must prove that an individual treating that patient acted negligently. EMTs, for instance, have a duty to provide the quality of care that a similarly skilled and knowledgeable EMT would provide in similar circumstances, and a lawsuit would need to prove that had not happened.
Because the provision of medical care, in general, is so highly technical and specialized a field, an experienced attorney can help determine what next steps are warranted – if any.