BHUBANESWAR: Good Samaritans who rush to the rescue of accident victims and help them to hospitals will no longer be subjected to civil or criminal liability like becoming witness in medico-legal cases or forced to disclose their identity before the police and hospital authorities.
In a move that will encourage people to immediately come to the aid of accident victims, thereby saving many lives, the State Health and Family Welfare Department has issued a notification for protection of Good Samaritans from harassment at both Government and private hospitals. The Good Samaritans will further be rewarded with cash compensation and certificates for their noble efforts. When a bystander or Good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident takes an injured person to the nearest hospital, he/she should be allowed to leave without any questions asked. A person who makes a phone call to police or emergency services about an accident and injured persons shall also not be compelled to reveal his/her name and personal details.
The public and private hospitals cannot detain the Good Samaritans or demand payment for registration and admission costs. Disclosure of name and details of the Samaritans as well as being party to the Medical Legal Case would be voluntary. The injured has to be immediately admitted and treated as per the directions of the Supreme Court, the guidelines specified.
"The implementation of guidelines will be monitored by the head of the hospital and a report should be furnished quarterly to the Health Department. All public and private hospitals shall implement the guidelines immediately and any non-compliance or violation will be viewed seriously," Health Secretary Arti Ahuja warned in the directives.
The move has been welcomed by road safety organisations and campaigners as it will play a key role in reducing road accident deaths in the State. As per NCRB data, nearly 4,000 people lost their lives in around 9,640 road accidents in the State in 2014. Road accidents claim more than 10 lives in the State every day and the number is rising. A substantial number of deaths can be prevented if the injured are rushed to the hospitals in time or within the Golden Hour period. This can be effected by community involvement but people usually are hesitant to take injured to hospitals for fear of being detained and harassed on suspicion of having caused the accident and also embroiled in civil and criminal cases as witness or parties, Secretary, Forum for Prevention of Road Accidents Bikash Mohapatra said.
"The Good Samaritan rules will definitely encourage people as it offers them protection. The guidelines should be widely publicised and institution of a fair compensation or reward for the Good Samaritans along with certificates will be a huge motivation for them," Mohapatra added.