My husband and I had this discussion while waiting in an airport and he saw an AED on the wall. We chatted about the "it's nice they're available...etc" and then he asked...
Is a healthcare professional who is certified in CPR (BLS, ACLS, Whatever) OBLIGATED by law to jump in when someone on the street or in a public place goes down? At first it seemed very cut and dried, at least from an ethical point of view, but he kept coming up with scenarios (love my DH, he does come up with things! So I told him I'd ask around the forum club...
First - are we REQUIRED by law, State Practice Act, whatever, to jump in when someone goes down in public and we're off duty.
Do we HAVE to perform mouth-to-mouth if we don't have a shield of some kind? What if there's secretions, vomitus or whatever?
Do we have to jump in if two people are already attending to the person, and seem to be providing proper CPR? What if they're doing it wrong?
If there's a traumatic injury, would you jump in to stem the flow of blood with your bare hands?? Would how the victim looks make a difference? IE - if they looked sick, homeless, drug using, as opposed to a business-looking guy in a suit or a LOL in her sunday hat?
Would instinct take over beyond our automatic Universal Precautions when those precautions are NOT available right away in a public situation? If they don't, and you DO concern yourself with your safety, are you liable for not acting, or not doing all you could if you had proper equipment.
If you don't act (for whatever reason) and someone finds out you were there and are a trained HCW, would you be legally liable if the victim died? On the other hand, if you did jump in and did the best you could, does Good Samaritan cover us as licensed professionals, or only the 'man on the street' samaritan?
Leave it to my DH, who thinks devil's advocate is a career to come up with all these "what ifs", but I am curious as to what others' think of all this?
My own first thought was SURE I'd jump in ... but then, mouth-to-mouth with an unknown person? Stemming blood with my bare hands (I bite my nails, donchaknow)? What if I did what I felt was ethically my responsibility and got a disease like HIV or Hep C - who's going to address THAT? Not my work if I'm not on duty. And as an aside, I had a LOL patient who was sweet as could be and nearly 100, and she was HIV+, so I don't think I could make a call in the regard based only on appearance.
What do you all think? Nothin's ever easy...