Cross-sectional survey of Good Samaritan behaviour by physicians in North Carolina

William M. Garneau, Dean M. Harris, Anthony J. Viera

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the responses of physicians to providing emergency medical assistance outside of routine clinical care. We assessed the percentage who reported previous Good Samaritan behaviour, their responses to hypothetical situations, their comfort providing specific interventions and the most likely reason they would not intervene. Setting: Physicians residing in North Carolina. Participants: Convenience sample of 1000 licensed physicians. Intervention: Mailed survey. Design: Cross-sectional study conducted May 2015 to September 2015. Main outcome and measures: Willingness of physicians to act as Good Samaritans as determined by the last opportunity to intervene in an out-of-office emergency. Results: The adjusted response rate was 26.1% (253/ 970 delivered). 4 out of 5 physicians reported previous opportunities to act as Good Samaritans. Approximately, 93% reported acting as a Good Samaritan during their last opportunity. There were no differences in this outcome between sexes, practice setting, specialty type or experience level. Doctors with greater perceived knowledge of Good Samaritan law were more likely to have intervened during a recent opportunity ( p=0.02). The most commonly cited reason for potentially not intervening was that another health provider had taken charge. Conclusions: We found the frequency of Good Samaritan behaviour among physicians to be much higher than reported in previous studies. Greater helping behaviour was exhibited by those who expressed more familiarity with Good Samaritan law. These findings suggest that physicians may respond to legal protections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere010720
JournalBMJ open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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