Senate Bill 147
149th General Assembly (2017 - 2018)
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EXEMPTIONS FROM LIABILITY FOR INDIVIDUALS RENDERING EMERGENCY CARE.
Immunity from liability for individuals rendering emergency care is addressed in many sections of the Delaware Code. There are several separate statutes providing immunity for specific professions and even for lay individuals providing specific types of assistance. Section 6715 of Title 16 provided immunity to “Firemen, policemen or volunteer ambulance or rescue squad members rendering emergency care” until it was transferred to § 6801 of Title 16 in 1971. Section 3001G of Title 16 provides immunity to peace officers who administer naloxone to an individual whom the officer believes is undergoing an opioid-related drug overdose. Currently, 1 statute, § 6801 of Title 16, addresses 3 topics: (1) lay person, Good Samaritan, immunity for rendering emergency care; (2) emergency responder immunity for rendering emergency care; and (3) the establishment of the Advanced Life Support Standards Committee. The current statute does not clearly identify the emergency responders that are provided immunity and, because of changes in how emergency services are funded, could be interpreted to exclude any person receiving compensation for their work, including firefighters and police officers. This Act amends § 3001G of Title 16 to include all public safety personnel and to reference the general immunity statute for public safety personnel, which provides the exact same level of immunity, to avoid potential conflicts between the immunity statutes and provide consistent immunity protection public safety personnel. Section 3001G of Title 16 does not need to specifically provide immunity to lay individuals who administer naloxone under the Community-Based Naloxone Access Program because lay individuals have immunity for administering naloxone under the general Good Samaritan statute, § 6801 of Title 16. This Act clarifies § 6801 of Title 16 by breaking it into 3 different statutes, 1 statute for each topic, but does not substantively change the law because this Act: (1) Clarifies the individuals covered by the statute without conflicting with the other immunity statutes across the Delaware Code. (2) Does not change the acts for which individuals have immunity and thus continues to provide immunity for acts such as administering CPR or naloxone. (3) Does not change who is intended to be covered by the current language § 6801 of Title 16. (4) Does not change the standard for immunity. As in the current law, the individual only has immunity if the individual did not cause the injuries or death wilfully, wantonly, or recklessly or by gross negligence. (5) Clarifies that lay individuals have immunity when rendering emergency care. (6) Clarifies that public safety personnel rendering emergency care have immunity if the individual has current, relevant training or certification. Specifically, this Act: (1) Amends § 3001G of Title 16 to include all public safety personnel and to reference the general immunity statute for public safety personnel and makes technical corrections to § 3001G of Title 16 to conform to the standards of the Legislative Drafting Manual. (2) Revises § 6801 of Title 16 so that it continues to provides immunity to lay individuals, also known as Good Samaritans, who render emergency care. It uses the same immunity standard as in the current § 6801 of Title 16. (3) Moves the immunity for emergency responders to Chapter 97 of Title 16, the Emergency Medical Services Systems Chapter. This allows the definitions in Chapter 97, Title 16 to apply to the immunity provision so it is consistent and clear that public safety personnel mean law-enforcement officers, lifeguards, park rangers, firefighters, ambulance and rescue personnel, communications and dispatch specialists, and other public employees and emergency service providers charged with maintaining the public safety. It uses the same immunity standard as in the current § 6801 of Title 16. (4) Continues to use a general statement of emergency care or rescue assistance rather than list specific acts. This allows the law to cover any situation, whether or not the specific nature of the assistance is anticipated by the General Assembly, and allows for the law to cover new medical treatment or forms of assistance. (5) Provides a definition for the term law-enforcement officers in Chapter 97 of Title 16, where the term is used but not defined. (6) Removes language from the current statute that excludes care provided on the premises of a hospital or clinic because that distinction is not necessary after the statute is separated to clearly define who receives immunity under this statute. In addition, other sections of the Delaware Code provide immunity for physicians, nurses, and physician assistants who provide emergency care, so those individuals no longer need to be included in this section for when they provide assistance outside of their places of employment. (7) Does not require lay individuals to have training to have immunity but does require that public safety personnel have any current training that is required and relevant to the assistance provided to have immunity. This is because public safety personnel acting in their official capacity often receive some form of compensation for the assistance. (8) Moves the Advanced Life Support Standards Committee to Chapter 97 of Title 16 and makes technical corrections to the language in the current § 6801 of Title 16 to conform to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual and to accurately refer to the Division of Public Health, but does not make any substantive changes.