The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this birth injury/medical malpractice case and its proceedings.)
It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, or Sutter.
Similarly, California Business & Professions Code § 2396 provides:
No licensee, who in good faith upon the request of another person so licensed, renders emergency medical care to a person for medical complication arising from prior care by another person so licensed, shall be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions by such licensed person in rendering such emergency medical care.
In Perkins v. Howard, 232 Cal.App.3d 708 (1991), the Court stated that the plain intent of the Good Samaritan Law is to encourage physicians to respond to requests for aid in medical emergencies, and thereby provide medical care to those who might not otherwise receive it. In Bryant v. Bakshandeh, 226 Cal.App.3d1241 (1991), the Court defined emergency as the existence of an exigency of so pressing a character that some kind of action must be taken.
In McKenna v. Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, 93 Cal.App.3d 282 (1979), the decedent’s family filed an action against defendant doctor, who had provided emergency medical care to the decedent. The decedent was not a patient of defendant doctor, nor was defendant doctor otherwise involved with the decedent’s medical care. The Court held that California’s Good Samaritan Law (then § 2144, now §§ 2395 and 2396) applied to medical emergencies in hospitals the same way it did to medical emergencies elsewhere. In so holding, the Court stated that a licensed physician, who in good faith rendered emergency medical care at the scene of an emergency, was not liable for any civil damages that resulted from any acts or omissions in rendering such care. McKenna, supra, at 288.
The Good Samaritan Defense was further clarified in Burciaga v. St. John’s Hospital, 187 Cal.App.3d 710 (1986), which is directly analogous to the instant case. In Burciaga, plaintiff minor brought an action against a pediatrician for injuries sustained at birth. The infant was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and suffering from interuterine anoxia. The newborn’s obstetrician requested a pediatrician to the delivery room stat. [FN1] Defendant pediatrician, who was simply present in the hospital while caring for his patients, immediately responded, applied suction, and administered oxygen. Defendant pediatrician continued to treat the newborn throughout the day. (See Part 9 of 9.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.