One of the things that hinder many people from learning and giving first aid is the possibility of injuring the patient and getting sued. This is why taking a first aid course can’t be emphasised enough. In this post, you’ll learn the legal side of performing first aid, which could give you a head start in your learning process.
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Important Terms to Understand
Claims related to first aid damages revolve around three important concepts – duty of care, negligence, and reasonable care. These concepts are common in laws governing healthcare emergencies, rescue operations, and first aid in Australia, the U.K., the U.S., and other countries. Hence, these are also included in first responder courses to educate first aiders on the legal side of giving first aid:
- Duty of Care – This term refers to a person’s legal obligation in relation to reasonable care standards in performing any healthcare act.
- Reasonable Care – This refers to the objective care standards a person with a duty of care needs to follow when giving any type of care. This serves as the basis for determining whether the standards of care had been breached.
- Negligence – This happens when a person with a duty of care causes a loss or injury due to an act or inaction. Negligence differs from carelessness, which is a result of someone’s inefficient action.
In healthcare and rescue, the duty of care falls on the shoulders of the first aiders. However, the liability of the first responders is measured based on their training and skill level. This means that professionals and laypeople might be held liable in different ways. And this is where the concept of negligence comes into the picture. The duty of care weighs heavier on the professionals than on laypeople. The goal of giving first aid is to leave the casualty in a better chance to survive. Issues on negligence and carelessness could happen if the patient is left in a worse position.
Reasons That Could Support a Claim on First Aid Damages
If first aiders jump in to save a person, they must do so in good faith by executing a care procedure that’s within their skill level or training. Doing anything beyond their limitation or level of competence could result in serious health concerns for the patient. Specifically, the following are the reasons a casualty could file for a claim on first aid damages:
- Inappropriate or negligent intervention – First aiders will only be accountable for damages if they exacerbate the injury or cause additional harm to the patient while performing first aid procedures. Standards of care will be considered in evaluating this claim.
- Lack of consent from the patient – For conscious patients, first aiders might seek their consent first before performing any care procedure. If the patient doesn’t consent to any first aid procedure but fell unconscious, the first aider must only perform a life-saving procedure. The first responder isn’t advised to do any other first aid procedures, such as to treat wounds and injuries while the patient is unconscious.
Yes, there’s some level of pressure in performing first aid on another person. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. Nothing is more fulfilling than seeing an unconscious person regain consciousness, feel better, and have a higher chance of surviving the accident. Especially at work when the injured person could be your friend, being able to jump in and perform CPR or other procedures matters a lot.
A report by the International Labour Organisation highlights that there are more than 1 million work-related fatalities every year. And in most of these cases, effective first aid skills could have helped the patient survive. So, you shouldn’t worry much about getting sued for performing first aid. So long as you have training on first aid in Australia, you’d be more equipped to respond to health emergencies.
The Simple Answer to the Question
Let’s go back to the question of whether or not you could get sued for giving first aid. The answer might be a simple yes. But you’ll only receive claims if the first aid execution had been proven to cause the patient additional injury. In theory, suing someone due to first aid damage is possible. But the courts have always been favourable to those who’ve given life-saving assistance to people in need. In many countries, there’s a high level of protection for “Good Samaritans” who performed first aid procedures in good faith. And government authorities have always encouraged laypeople to learn first aid so that there would be more stand-by heroes.
Are you now more than eager to hone your first aid skills? If yes, visit a reputable first aid training provider near you and get certified.