A lot of people hesitate when it comes to help someone who’s met with an accident with a fear of getting stuck into legal matters at the hospital. The number of people dead due to this is known to all. For the same, a petition was filed by Save LIFE Foundation in 2012. On 29th October, 2014, the Supreme Court directed the Government of India to issue necessary guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made. The guidelines were to be made within three months.
Good Samaritans are the people who help road accident victims by taking them to the hospital and have everything going against them from legal wrangles to harassment. The Government has now finally notified guidelines to protect such samaritans from any civil & criminal liability among other things. Even the disclosure of the name has been made voluntary.
The guidelines were officially notified on 13th May, 2015. This notification said that the Government considers it necessary to protect the Good Samaritans from harassment on the actions being taken by them to save the life of the road accident victims. This is the reason why the guidelines were being issued. They are to be followed by hospitals, police and all other authorities for the protection of Good Samaritans.
Here the most important points from the guideline:
- A bystander or Good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured person to the nearest hospital, and the bystander or good Samaritan should be allowed to leave immediately except after furnishing address by the eyewitness only and no question shall be asked to such bystander or good Samaritan.
- The bystander or good Samaritan shall be suitably rewarded or compensated as decided by the state governments to encourage other citizens to come forward to help the road accident victims.
- The bystander or good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil and criminal liability.
- A bystander or good Samaritan, who makes a phone call to inform the police or emergency services for the person lying injured on the road, shall not be compelled to reveal his name and personal details on the phone or in person.
- The disclosure of personal information, such as name and contact details of the good Samaritan shall be made voluntary and optional including in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) Form provided by hospitals.
- The disciplinary or departmental action shall be initiated by the Government concerned against public officials who coerce or intimidate a bystander or good Samaritan for revealing his name or personal details.
- In case a bystander or good Samaritan, who has voluntarily stated that he is also an eye-witness to the accident and is required to be examined for the purposes of investigation by the police or during the trial, such bystander or good Samaritan shall be examined on a single occasion and the State Government shall develop standard operating procedures (to be developed within 30 days) to ensure that bystander or good Samaritan is not harassed or intimidated.
- Video conferencing may be used extensively during examination of bystander or good Samaritan who is an eye witness in order to prevent harassment and inconvenience to good Samaritans.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall issue guidelines stating that all registered public and private hospitals are not to detain bystander or good Samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs, unless the good Samaritan is a family member or relative of the injured and the injured is to be treated immediately
- Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he is expected to provide care, shall constitute “Professional Misconduct”
- All hospitals shall publish a charter in Hindi, English and the vernacular language of the State at their entrance stating that they shall not detain bystander or good Samaritan or ask depositing money from them for the treatment of a victim.
- In case a bystander or good Samaritan so desires, the hospital shall provide an acknowledgement to such good Samaritan, confirming that an injured person was brought to the hospital and the time and place of such occurrence and the acknowledgement may be prepared in a standard format by the State Government and disseminated to all hospitals in the State for incentivizing the bystander or good Samaritan as deemed fit by the State Government.
- All public and private hospitals shall implement these guidelines immediately and in case of noncompliance or violation of these guidelines appropriate action shall be taken by the concerned authorities.
The Founder of petitioner SaveLIFE Foundation in a statement released by SaveLIFE Foundation said, “We welcome this move of the Central Government. Although an interim measure, these guidelines will help create a supportive environment for bystanders to come forward and help injured persons without fear of intimidation or harassment by Police and Hospitals. The onus is now on State Governments to ensure implementation of these guidelines.”
You can read the entire guidelines here.
Information and images sourced from Factly