Lawmakers look to further protect good samaritans

Staff writerFebruary 3, 2014 

Good Samaritans in Washington state are immune to certain liability when it comes to providing emergency care, but legislation seeks to further protect those who help strangers.

Current law states that a local health department must provide free infectious disease testing only if an individual provides emergency care to a person, comes in contact with bodily fluids and does not have health insurance that would cover the testing.

Legislation introduced by newly-appointed Democratic Rep. June Robinson of Everett would require a local department of health to provide free testing, regardless of whether or not it is covered by an individual’s health insurance plan.

“It’s a simple bill that will clarify infectious disease testing for persons who provide Good Samaritan acts,” Robinson told the House Health Care and Wellness Committee Monday.

Infectious diseases include HIV and Hepatitis A, B and C.

House Bill 2530 would also allow free testing for a source patient so that a Good Samaritan could begin preventative treatment following any exposure to an infectious disease.

Sean Graham of the Washington State Medical Association said the idea for the legislation came from a member of the association in response to an accident they encountered.

“This is a good opportunity” to help public health in the community, Graham said.

Robinson’s legislation isn’t the only proposal aimed at providing limited liability to Good Samaritans.

Sen. Mark Mullet, a Democrat from Issaquah, introduced Senate Bill 6229, legislation that would protect an individual from civil liability for using an epinephrine autoinjector at the scene of an emergency, provided they call 911 as soon as possible.

Mullet’s proposal has a public hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Senate Health Care Committee in Hearing Room 4 of the John A. Cherberg Building.

Robinson’s legislation awaits an executive hearing, where it will be decided if it moves to the House floor for a vote.

 

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