So, you have heard about AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and probably even know how they can significantly improve the likelihood of survival when applied within a three-to-five minute timeframe. You also know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommended placing AEDs in the workplace. But, this recent article in Cardiovascular Business shows that many people are still unwilling to use them.
Why is that? Aren't there laws to protect you and your organization?
The short answer to that is, "Maybe!". Quite honestly, it all depends on who you are and where your business is located.
While all 50 states and the District of Columbia have Good Samaritan laws, there is no overarching federal law that applies, except for federal facilities, and the state laws and requirements vary a lot from state to state. This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) article and this National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) piece reflect that diversity. This PlusTrac legislation page provides a good summary of the different requirements of various states.
What is The Good Samaritan Law?
In answer to that question, "Good Samaritan" laws, are named such to remind us of the Bible story where a man on the road helps a stranger in need of care. These laws are intended for non-medical professionals, sometimes referred to as "bystanders" because it is not their job to respond, but do so out of kindness.
From this definition, it would appear that Good Samaritan laws apply only to the persons - the "Good Samaritans" - not to the companies or corporations that purchase them. However, such may not always be the case.
Protection for Companies
For many states, like California, the Good Samaritan law applies only to users. However, that is not the case in all states. A particular case in point is Oklahoma. Specifically, the Oklahoma AED Act states in part, "... the entity to whom the (AED) device is registered shall be immune from civil liability ...". Other states, like Maine and Michigan, provide protection for both "users" and "owners" of the AEDs.
So, Good Samaritan laws could provide liability protection to companies depending on where they are located and what type of business they conduct. Some states actually require particular entities, like fitness clubs and schools to have AEDs available and ready for use.
Even so, the protections available under existing Good Samaritan laws cannot prevent litigation. However, being in compliance with state laws will improve the odds of winning if someone does decide to bring suit.
In view of the variations and complexities of state laws with regard to AED use, it is important to partner with someone who knows those laws and what they require.
PlusTrac is a web-based AED management system operated by persons familiar with the various state laws and AED use requirements. We would be pleased to discuss your particular needs or concerns. Click here for a free trial or call us at 866-352-5433.