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Doctors as Good Samaritans: Some Empirical Evidence Concerning Emergency Medical Treatment in Britain

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This paper reports the results of the first survey of British doctors' attitudes towards the provision of emergency treatment outside the usual confines of a surgery or hospital. The experience and perceptions of NHS doctors practising in Sheffield concerning Good Samaritan behaviour are discussed against the background of the rather uncertain common law of medical rescue. The implications of the survey's findings for the direction of legal policy and the promotion of medical altruism are also considered. Despite the alleged deterioration in standards of social responsibility, the potentially fraught nature of such interventions, and the theoretical possibility of legal liability should any rescue attempt go badly, it seems that the overwhelming majority of doctors (in this survey, at least) are willing Samaritans.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sheffield Hallam University, England

Publication date: 2003-06-01

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