The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4131.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - Table 2

Abstract #38490

Review of charitable immunity legislation for volunteer clinicians

Paul A. Hattis, Community Benefits, Partners Healthcare, 1135 Tremont Street, Suite 980, Boston, MA 02120, 617-585-2828, and Janet Walton, MA, Volunteers in Health Care, Brown University Center for Primary Care, 111 Brewster Strees, Pawtucket, RI 02860.

Thousands of physicians, dentists and other health care providers volunteer their time to provide care to patients who lack insurance or other financial means to pay for services. Such volunteer services are provided in many different settings and under the sponsorship of a variety of organizations. One of the challenges and potential barriers to greater participation of clinician volunteers are malpractice liability risks associated with providing care, especially in the non-emergent context.. Either clinicians are reluctant to volunteer without adequate insurance coverage, or non-profit organizations operating with limited financial resources are challenged to afford adequate malpractice insurance for their clinician volunteers. In the absence of universal entitlement to health insurance in the US and recognizing the need to help promote clinician volunteerism, state legislatures and even Congress (in 1997) have passed laws which in some way reduce the liability concerns of clinician volunteers in the non-emergent context. Forty-two states plus DC have passed some law (often referred to as ‘charitable immunity laws’) in this regard. Usually, the laws have either changed the liability standard for malpractice in the volunteer context to make it more difficult to successfully sue a negligent volunteer clinician or in some way indemnify the clinicians for any potential liability flowing from their acts of malpractice. In this presentation, we plan to provide an overview and summary of the various state approaches and discuss implications for public policy.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Legislative,

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Overcoming Barriers to Care: Meeting Consumer Expectations

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA