Legal and Ethical Issues in First Aid

Legal liability

Fortunately, a sense of altruism often makes people help others, without expecting any reward. However, there is another factor that in some cases may prevent people from helping victims, which is the fear of legal consequences arising from helping.

The most important thing is that, like many other legal issues, there is a lot of divergence in this case and the answer to this question can be quite diverse, especially in different countries, regions or circumstances.

First aider responsibilities

So, you must consider your country’s legal requirements when helping others.

Due to the legal requirements, in some countries, ordinary people should help casualties, if it does not have any risk for themselves or others. While people who live in other parts of the world, do not have such a requirement. Though, the following conditions might create such legal obligations:

• If you have a special relationship with the casualty, such as parent-child, spouses, common carriers-patrons, employer-employee, school employee-student, real property owners-invitees, etc.

• When you begin helping others, you are not allowed to stop without a justifiable reason.

• If you injured another person.

Duty of care

This is usually the case for car accidents when sometimes stress cause driver to leave the scene. In addition to being illegal and unethical, “hit-and-run” will result in loss of golden time to help victims and consequently, increased level of damage. In this condition, it is possible that a victim with minor injuries dies due to delayed first aid.

Good Samaritan laws to protect first aiders

Many governments passed helpful Samaritan laws to avoid criminal prosecution of helpers. These laws will protect you if you get permission from the victim before helping. In order to obtain permission:

• Introduce yourself to the casualty

• Describe your level of training

• Tell the casualty what you want to do

When you want to help a child, you should get permission from parents or guardian. You can assume the permission is granted for victims who are unconscious or children whose parents are not available. However, you should avoid helping conscious victims, if he does not allow you, but even in this case, you should call the ambulance.

Criminal prosecution concerns that may arise while giving first aid to others, often exists if you are going to help a stranger. However, if the casualty is a family member, friend or colleague, probably there would be no fear. The most important thing, in this case, is how to help an injured person? Can your help cause more damage and can you avoid it?

In the following sections, we will try to answer these questions.

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