Question about Good samaritan act

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Chris Mc

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21 July 2021
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Hi I provide first aid training and have been asked over and over again can I be sued if I do bla bla bla a common one I would love to know thhe legal standing is to this scenario. A person is chocking and is unable to dislodge the object after alternating between back blows and chest thrusts as per the Australian Resusitation Guidlines If the first aider performed a tracheostomy ? If successfull could they be sued and what if the person died due to the blockage and not the hole made by the rescuer either below or above the obstruction unknowingly. The only reason they did this is the person was going to die from not being able to breathe and the Ambulance was still a long way away.

Thank you
Chris
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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In answer to your hypothetical question - the good samaritan in your scenario is likely protected.

I note the good samaritan can still be sued, just likely not successfully.

You haven't indicated which State your are in, and if the facts change, the answer could be different.
 

Docupedia

Well-Known Member
7 October 2020
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If you are not trained to do the procedure, you do not do it. That’s a fundamental part of first aid training. First aid training does not include any form of invasive procedure, such as a tracheotomy.

if you have exhausted the limit of what you are trained to do in a first aid situation, you will have already made contact with emergency services (if able to do so). You follow their instructions. If they tell you to perform a tracheotomy, then you follow their directions. If not, then you don’t.

Without proper skill, ability, and knowledge, you simply don’t know what you are doing.
 

Tim W

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Are you a commercial trainer?
Which state?
 

Chris Mc

Member
21 July 2021
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QLD and yes I am a sole trader providing First Aid trraining assessing.
Iwas recently informed that it wouldd ot result in a crimminal court under Qld law.
This is why I am asking.
 

Tim W

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In short and simple....
Save the layman emergency trachs for Hollywood, and re-runs of M*A*S*H*.

In more detail...

Any surgical procedure needs to be within both the person's skill set and their scope of practice.
For a base level First Aid practitioner* a tracheotomy is neither of those things.
It also has to be reasonably safe to attempt in the circumstances, and have reasonable prospects of success,
A mere First Aider is not competent to decide either of those things.

And if they do proceed, and cause new injury, or, make worse what's already there,
then yes, they do so at their own personal legal risk.

The legal duty of a first aider is not to save life.
Their duty at law is
to take reasonable care to not make things any worse than if they had done nothing.



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* Somebody with HLTAID003 (or now, 011) or similar, and no higher qualification, and no other relevant knowledge
 
Last edited:

Rod

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Hmm, I agree, in QLD the 'good samaritan bystander' is not protected as they may be in other states.
 

sammy01

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27 September 2015
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Ok, apart from the legal repercussions. The chance of success is fcuk all... The chance of killing the patient. VERY VERY high. If this gets asked in a first aid course your answer is that "any idiot that tries this should go to jail."
 

Rod

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Yes, let's all sit back and do nothing if someone is in distress because it may result in being sued or arrested by police. *notes sarcasm

The hypothetical situation presented was someone dies if no action is taken. When it is obvious someone will die if no action is taken, there is a moral duty of a bystander to take what action they can to save that person if there is no certain danger to the bystander, regardless of whether the person is trained or skilled in that action.

Using Sammy's logic, imagine a scenario where someone is hiking and comes across a hunter being mauled by a wild dog and sees his gun near them. Because they are untrained in the use of firearms they should not pickup and use the gun to save the hunter.

Using Sammy's logic again, imagine 2 people in a factory, one is pinned by a forklift and is bleeding profusely and will die in 10 mins unless the forklift is moved. There is no-one else in the factory within 30 minutes of the pair of workers. The unpinned worker does not have a forklift licence. By Sammy's logic because the worker is not trained, he must watch his fellow worker die.

There are countless other scenarios where attempting to save someone takes precedence over the lack of skill or training of the bystander.

It really really annoys me when people use the excuse "but I have no training" therefore I do not have to do anything.

I recently suffered an injury on a footpath next to a busy a road. I was visibly hurt and no-one stopped to render assistance. Why did no-one stop? I don't know and can only guess. They were too busy, they thought someone else would stop, they just didn't care ....

While my injury was not life threatening, it showed as a a society we are losing our way and attitudes like "I am not trained" are just another excuse to avoid the need to help someone in distress.

Sammy, in my opinion, you are VERY VERY WRONG.