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Understanding the Legal Risks of Volunteering for Physicians

 Posted on June 21,2017 in Medical License Defense

Illinois medical license defense attorneyThere are benefits to volunteering your medical expertise or services, whether it be at a free or mobile clinic, a medical relief group, an international disaster area, or with a local school or sports team. Unfortunately, there are also risks involved, including the potential of legal or medical licensing issues. Because of this, it is important that physicians understand the risks, and how to best protect themselves.

Good Samaritan Laws

Many healthcare professionals believe they are legally required to assist in an emergency under the Good Samaritan Law, but this law is not as much of a requirement as it is a mode of protection. While, yes, certain situations may bind you by law to help, you are not always obligated to assist a stranger in peril. But if you do choose to help, you have at least some protection under this law. However, there are some limitations that you must be aware of:

  • It must be a true emergency outside of a hospital or place with medical equipment, and the care must be completely voluntary;

  • The treatment must follow informed consent laws unless any delay of treatment would jeopardize the patient;

  • Once you begin to render aid, you must stay at the scene until emergency medical services arrive or until someone with equal or greater expertise takes over (the only exception is if you are in immediate danger yourself);

  • And you must provide what would be considered standard and “reasonable” care.

Malpractice Insurance versus Liability Insurance

Malpractice insurance is designed to cover you in your services while on duty at your place of employment. While some malpractice companies can and sometimes do offer additional insurance for volunteering, most do not; for those that do, you would need to request the additional coverage instead of just assuming it is there. The alternative is to purchase separate liability insurance that would cover you while volunteering your services.

Research the Laws

Before providing services in a different state or country, take the time to research the laws regarding volunteer physicians. For example, when donating your time in another state, you must ensure you licensed to practice medicine in that particular state. There are also states that restrict you from acting as a consultant to another physician unless you are licensed within that state. Knowing these laws, and how to protect yourself in the face of them, can help you avoid licensing issues within your own state. 

Seek Professional Help When Faced with Licensing Issues

If you believe your license may be in jeopardy for any reason, or if you have received any correspondence from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), do not wait for matters to spiral out of control. Instead, contact The Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, Inc.. Our Illinois medical license defense attorney will protect your rights and aggressively pursue the most favorable outcome possible. Call 630-310-1267 for a free consultation.


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