1. Brooke, Penny Simpson APRN, MS, JD

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Although I've administered CPR in the past and my RN license is current, I haven't been working as a nurse, nor have I been retrained in CPR. If I'm present when someone needs resuscitation and no one else is available to help, can I administer CPR without risking getting sued?-O.F., ARK.


Public policy wants to encourage bystanders to intervene and help others in emergency situations. If someone needs CPR and you're the only one available to help, Good Samaritan laws are designed to protect you.


As a licensed nurse, you'll be expected to act as any reasonably prudent nurse would under the circumstances. Use your knowledge and skills appropriately and avoid reckless or grossly negligent behavior, and the law should protect you against liability. (Good Samaritan laws don't protect you if you're receiving compensation or have a preexisting duty to provide the care you give.)


The fact that you haven't been retrained in CPR and aren't currently working as a nurse is relevant, but doesn't make you more liable when you help someone in an emergency. Many nonprofessional people learn CPR just in case of an emergency and don't retrain regularly. You didn't anticipate that your CPR skills would be needed, or this wouldn't be an emergency as defined under the Good Samaritan laws.


During the past 5 years, research has shown that most people don't perform the basics of CPR successfully, so strongly consider attending a basic life support course to update your skills.