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General practice Consultant or specialist FY or training grade Hospital doctor Medical student No customisation

Medico-legal helpline

0800 716 646

Acting as a Good Samaritan

5 June 2013

Dr Richenda Tisdale, MDU medico-legal adviser

In her first week of medical school, an MDU member came across an injured woman lying in the street. She had an obvious head injury, and two men standing nearby called for help. The student asked them to call the police and an ambulance and stepped into the road to examine the patient. She applied pressure to the head wound and did not attempt to move the patient as it was unclear what other injuries she might have. The emergency services arrived within minutes and took over the care of the patient. The police asked the student for a statement. She contacted the MDU for advice.

Doctors have an ethical duty to provide care when and where necessary, but this does not strictly apply to medical students. However, if you feel able to do so, the GMC says in Good medical practice, paragraph 26:

You must offer help if emergencies arise in clinical settings or in the community, taking account of your own safety, your competence and the availability of other options for care.

The MDU provides indemnity for medical students acting as Good Samaritans.

This guidance was correct at publication 05/06/2013. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.


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