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Identifying yourself as an RN when flying commercial

Nurses   (22,671 Views 72 Comments)
by RelloydRN RelloydRN (Member) Member

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FlyingScot has 28 years experience as a RN and specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc.

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Please see the definition of Good Samaritan law and keep in mind each state has a different variation. in my state, if you are caught not helping in an emergency, your license will be suspended or revoked. Police officers and firefighters can be fired, etc...definition taken from http://definitions.uslegal.com/g/good-samaritans/

A good samaritan in legal terms refers to someone who renders aid in an emergency to an injured person on a voluntary basis. Usually, if a volunteer comes to the aid of an injured or ill person who is a stranger, the person giving the aid owes the stranger a duty of being reasonably careful. A person is not obligated by law to do first aid in most states, not unless it's part of a job description. However, some states will consider it an act of negligence though, if a person doesn't at least call for help. Generally, where an unconscious victim cannot respond, a good samaritan can help them on the grounds of implied consent. However, if the victim is conscious and can respond, a person should ask their permission to help them first.

Some states offer immunity to good samaritans, but sometimes negligence could result in a claim of negligent care if the injuries or illness were made worse by the volunteer's negligence. Statutes typically don't exempt a good samaritan who acts in a willful and wanton or reckless manner in providing the care, advice, or assistance. Good samaritan laws often don't apply to a person rendering emergency care, advice, or assistance during the course or regular employment, such as services rendered by a health care provider to a patient in a health care facility.

Under the good samaritan laws which grant immunity, if the good samaritan makes an error while rendering emergency medical care, he or she cannot be held legally liable for damages in court. However, two conditions usually must be met; 1) the aid must be given at the scene of the emergency, and. 2) if the "volunteer" has other motives, such as the hope of being paid a fee or reward, then the law will not apply

Thank you for your thorough definition but I have been involved in volunteer rescue work longer than you have been alive an am very well versed in the ins and outs of the Good Samaritan law. There are very few of them that have a "duty to act" clause that includes nurses. The reason for that is we are generally not trained for scene response. I do not know what state you are in and it would be interesting to look at the law to see exactly what it states. In general the Good Samaritan law may protect you from criminal liability but is still will not stop somebody from suing you if that is what they want to do and that is what you said in your previous post. I have been through this and believe me it is no picnic. Currently there is an acrimonious case underway regarding a young woman who pulled her friend out of what she believed was a burning car ultimately causing severe spinal injury. The injured girl's family is suing her. They are saying she was negligent. The friend thought she was doing the right thing and look what has happened.

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I responded once to an overhead page, after they'd asked for doctors and got nothing. A gentleman had a seizure in the aisle right next to me. The guy woke up, turned out diabetes ran in his family, and he was able to take some OJ and crackers and felt better. the flight attendents were on the radio with a doc on the ground to cover us (I think 3 RNs responded on that flight) if needed. I wondered if they had any meds in a box somewhere if they needed them, or if somehow the flight attendents could dispense meds in an emergency - not starting IVs and pushing code drugs, but I wonder if they're allowed to give, say, an ASA for a suspected MI until the plane can land.

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ok2bme specializes in Psych, EMS.

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Pardon me, but either I am slow or my humility is in over-drive here. I seriously seek to understand. Is there a prestige to being an RN. I mean everyone should love their jobs and I do love mine as I'm sure that others do.

But other than that, is there an unspoken rule that others should look up to us..scratch that...put us on a pedastal?

I was kind of baffled by the question, because although I am proud of being an RN I do not see it as prestigious. I mean how many times have we seen nursing listed in yahoo articles like "Jobs that don't Require a Degree." No one seems particularly impressed when I say I am an RN, maybe it is my location and the fact that it is flooded wtih nurses.

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Katie803 specializes in Developmental and Peds with disabilities.

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Thank you for your thorough definition but I have been involved in volunteer rescue work longer than you have been alive an am very well versed in the ins and outs of the Good Samaritan law. There are very few of them that have a "duty to act" clause that includes nurses. The reason for that is we are generally not trained for scene response. I do not know what state you are in and it would be interesting to look at the law to see exactly what it states. In general the Good Samaritan law may protect you from criminal liability but is still will not stop somebody from suing you if that is what they want to do and that is what you said in your previous post. I have been through this and believe me it is no picnic. Currently there is an acrimonious case underway regarding a young woman who pulled her friend out of what she believed was a burning car ultimately causing severe spinal injury. The injured girl's family is suing her. They are saying she was negligent. The friend thought she was doing the right thing and look what has happened.

Wow, really? That's terrible, why would you sue your friend for saving your life? I didn't mean to come off as rude, really, I was just clarifying the law for some who may be curious about it. My state takes the Good Samiritan law very seriousy. My mother was a police officer for several years and she is the one who taught me about it. I then went to my teachers and found out more about it and in my state the "duty to act" law is implied heavily. Maybe it's because of the whole "Southern Hospitality" thing lol (I live in SC). Please don't take my post as trying to be argumentative, I didn't mean it that way. Yes, there have been cases of people being sued here (SC) for the GS law, but they VERY rarely win unless they tried to do something crazy like perform heart surgery on the side of the road. However, I would really hope that every person who is medically trained would perform their duties responsibly and well inside their scope of practice. As someone else mentioned, what if it was you or your family member who needed help? And in my personal opinion, if you were present and needed and you didn't act, then maybe you should find another field of work!

PS, anyone ever hear of the story of the guy who had a heart attack at a cardiologist convention? Look it up, it's a pretty cool story!

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Fiona59 has 18 years experience.

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The OP wasn't an April Fool's Day Prankster???

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FlyingScot has 28 years experience as a RN and specializes in Peds/Neo CCT,Flight, ER, Hem/Onc.

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I didn't mean to come off as rude, really, I was just clarifying the law for some who may be curious about it. My state takes the Good Samiritan law very seriousy. My mother was a police officer for several years and she is the one who taught me about it. I then went to my teachers and found out more about it and in my state the "duty to act" law is implied heavily. Maybe it's because of the whole "Southern Hospitality" thing lol (I live in SC). Please don't take my post as trying to be argumentative, I didn't mean it that way. Yes, there have been cases of people being sued here (SC) for the GS law, but they VERY rarely win unless they tried to do something crazy like perform heart surgery on the side of the road. However, I would really hope that every person who is medically trained would perform their duties responsibly and well inside their scope of practice. As someone else mentioned, what if it was you or your family member who needed help? And in my personal opinion, if you were present and needed and you didn't act, then maybe you should find another field of work!

No harm no foul. Interestingly enough I did a pretty thorough search of SC law and BON rules to find the "duty to act" part of it but did not find anything. I was also under the impression that we had a "duty to act" in Ohio but found out that what I had been told was not true. There is a caveat here. In most states if you identify yourself as a nurse and someone requests your help in an emergency situation in which you have training to assist and you refuse then you have opened yourself up to all kinds of nasty things. That may be where the confusion lies. If I drive by an accident and don't stop I am in the clear. If I stop, identify myself as an RN and then refuse to do, say, CPR which I am trained to do that could be defined as abandonment. It's kind of sticky isn't it? Because of your mom being a police officer she might have had more responsibility since scene response was part of her job. Just to reassure our southern brothers and sisters us "northerners" will also stop and render aid if we can. I have many,many times not because I legally have to but because it's the right thing to do. :D

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46 Posts; 3,072 Profile Views

A long time ago, I was on a flight where they called for "Any Doctors or Nurses on board"... I hesitantly raised my hand, and was the only one who did. I performed compressions while a flight attendant did mouth-to-mouth. We saved the patient, and United Airlines sent me an UMBRELLA as a Thank-you. lol

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2 Followers; 14,620 Posts; 103,953 Profile Views

And in my personal opinion, if you were present and needed and you didn't act, then maybe you should find another field of work!

Fortunately, we're each entitled to our own opinions ...

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2 Followers; 14,620 Posts; 103,953 Profile Views

In most states if you identify yourself as a nurse and someone requests your help in an emergency situation in which you have training to assist and you refuse then you have opened yourself up to all kinds of nasty things. That may be where the confusion lies. If I drive by an accident and don't stop I am in the clear. If I stop, identify myself as an RN and then refuse to do, say, CPR which I am trained to do that could be defined as abandonment. It's kind of sticky isn't it?

Exactly -- the "grey area" is, at what point have you established a professional duty/relationship which can then be breached?? (Those being two of the four elements necessary to prove professional negligence (malpractice :)), in addition to any concerns about abandonment that the BON might have.)

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anurseatlast has 4 years experience and specializes in maternal child, public/community health.

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I think I would step forward in that situation if I were on a flight. But the thought of injecting phenergan scares me! :eek:

I'm curious as to why you would have phenergan with you on the plane???:confused:

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28 Posts; 744 Profile Views

Hi...not yet an RN, but as a former flight attendant I can shed a little light on the subject.

All airlines in the US are required to carry a certain amount of medical equipment. These include a First Aid Kit (FAK), AED and an "Emergency Medical Kit (EMK)." Flight attendants are required to check all of this equipment before the flight and make sure it is present and not tampered with. If it's missing or appears to have been opened it must be replaced, in most cases, before the aircraft can depart.

The FAK is just what the name implies; bandages, smelling salts, splint materials...all things that are of a very basic nature and that flight attendants are trained to use at a basic level.

The AED is also something that all flight attendants are trained to use.

The EMK is where the "good stuff" is. The he FAA mandates minimum equipment/medications that have to be kept in the kit although some airlines have kits with more extensive contents than others. The EMK is usually kept in the cockpit and can only be opened with approval of the Captain, who in almost every case will be in contact with a physician on the ground. In addition the contents can only be used by a licensed medical professional. So even if the physician on the ground was able to prescribe some type of treatment such as the administering of a medication...a flight attendant couldn't do it. The kit is on every flight because on most large aircraft there is at least one person qualified to use it.

By the way, the doctor on the ground is usually provided by Medaire, which is based at Banner Good Samaritan hospital in Tempe, AZ. The organization provides support to almost every airline in the world as well as ships. The team has a thorough understanding of flight operations and a database of hospitals everywhere in the world , so they can coordinate effective treatment. Let's say for instance that a passenger had a potential MI. The Captain and the Medaire doctor would discuss whether to divert the aircraft and land someplace. They would also look at where the best facilities are in close proximity to the aircraft. (i.e., what's the point of landing quickly in Podunkville if there isn't a good hospital nearby...when the airplane could go another 10 minutes and land in a city with a Level I trauma center?) For more info on Medaire and the medical kits you can visit their website here: http://www.medaire.com/comm_kits.html

Here's an interesting story about some inflight medical "heroics": http://tiny.cc/4ahmm

And finally, since I am feeling verbose tonight; a story about one of my in flight medical emergencies: I was flying to Frankfurt and in the middle of the night a woman who was 4 months pregnant started complaining of abdominal pain and thought she was beginning to have contractions. We made several pages for a "doctor, nurse or other licensed medical professional" with no response. As I was walking to the back of the plane I noticed that there was a guy on the aisle wearing an "Albert Einstein School of Medicine" sweatshirt. He was a little older, so I didn't think he was a med student and I asked him if he was a doctor. He said "why?" I gave him a brief summary of the situation and said that while I didn't want to pressure him into doing something that he was uncomfortable with...we'd be landing in Iceland in the next 20 minutes if we didn't find someone who could help figure out what was going on. His wife hears that says "there is no way we're going to miss our connecting flight and not make it to the cruiseship in time...go!" looks at me and says "he's an OB...he can help."

BTW; to make this a little more topical...it was rare, but occasionally someone would mention that they were an RN, paramedic, police officer, and that if we needed help to let them know. It was always a nice gesture, but I don't think anyone should feel compelled to do it.

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46 Posts; 3,072 Profile Views

The link to the heroic stories didn't work.

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