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First Aid - Can I be sued?

One of the questions people ask most frequently on courses is whether they can have a claim bought against them as a result of their treatment of a casualty.

There are many factors which need to be taken into account when considering this question, however, no legal precedent has been set in the UK where a casualty has sucessfully sued an individual who gave them treatment in an emergency resuscitation situation.

Good to know!!

In the UK the Resuscitation Council (UK) publishes or endorses guidelines to assit those attempting resuscitation. In 2000 they first published an excellent article entitled "The legal status of those who attempt resuscitation" which was revised in 2010 and reviewed again in Sept 2015.

A thorough review was undertaken again in 2017 by one of the original authors and a legal specialist in the field. Revisions have been incorporated to ensure that the advice remains as current and accurate as possible.

With the increased availability of Defibrillators the Resusciation Council (UK) published a new document in April 2018 titled: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated defibrillators and the law. This is another excellent document and a 'must read' for everyone! You can download it at the bottom of this article.

There are the headline messages:

  • Up to 60,000 people die each year in the UK from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).1
  • Fewer than 1 person in 10 survives if SCA occurs out of hospital.2
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator significantly improve survival.
  • Both can be delivered by untrained members of the public.
  • Acting to help someone who has suffered SCA will greatly improve their chance of survival.
  • The courts have always looked benevolently on those who have gone to the assistance of others.

[1 ref: European Heart Journal (2001) 22, 1374–1450 doi:10.1053/euhj.2001.2824]

[2 ref: RESUSCITATION TO RECOVERY A National Framework to improve care of people with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in England, 2017]

You can download the full document below.

All React First courses are taught in accordance to the Resuscitation Council (UK) guidelines. For more information you can read our What is Basic Life Support article, or visit the Resusciatation Council (UK) website. 


Resus Council (UK) - Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated defibrillators and the law, April 2018


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