Illinois Bar Journal Cites Califf & Harper, P.C. Partner Robert T. Park


As published in the Califf & Harper, P.C. August 2014 Newsletter

Doctors and other medical providers are normally held liable for malpractice if they fail to render treatment that meets the appropriate standard of care for their profession. But the Illinois legislature adopted a limited exception to that liability.

The Good Samaritan Act ("the Act") states that a licensed medical professional, "who, in good faith, provides emergency care without fee to a person, shall not, as a result of his or her acts or omissions, except willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person, in providing care, be liable for civil damages."

In the recent case of Home Star Bank & Financial Services v. Emergency Care & Health Organization, Ltd., 2014 IL 115526, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that doctors will be held to the same standard of care when they treat patients at medical facilities whether or not they bill a patient for a procedure.

Specifically, the Court held the Act could not be used as a defense by an emergency room physician who was sued for negligence after he attempted to intubate a patient that subsequently suffered permanent brain damage. The doctor argued that, because no bill had been sent for his services, he was covered by the Act and not liable for negligence.

The May 2014 Illinois Bar Journal contained an article about the Home Star Bank case, featuring an interview with Califf & Harper, P.C. principal Robert Park.

The article quoted Attorney Park as saying: "Doctors do not routinely use the good Samaritan defense. It is the exception for a doctor to render professional services without a fee, so the Good Samaritan defense is not available to most medical malpractice defendants."

"The Home Star Bank case is not likely to have a big impact on medical malpractice filings or insurance premiums," Mr. Park said. "Physicians who render treatment in a medical setting - in a hospital, clinic, or medical office - will be held to the standard of care for similar doctors in similar circumstances."

"The Good Samaritan law will only apply in the unusual case where a doctor happens upon and renders care without charge to a person that is ill at a public place or someone who is the victim of an accident or crime ľ where the doctor is seeing the patient in a non-medical setting, such as on the street, in a theater, at a public gathering, or at the scene of a crime or accident."

"From my recollection, the law was passed because physicians claimed they were afraid of getting sued if they stopped to render aid when they came upon, for example, a motor vehicle collision," Mr. Park said.

For more information on this topic please contact Califf & Harper, P.C. by calling 309-764-8300 or 1-800-764-4999. This article is intended to provide general information regarding the topic discussed herein but is not intended to constitute individual legal advice.