Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1242152
 
 

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Volunteer Health Professionals and Emergencies: Assessing and Transforming the Legal Environment


James G. Hodge Jr.


Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Lance Gable


Wayne State University Law School

Stephanie H. Calves


Harvard School of Public Health

2005

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2005
Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 08-27

Abstract:     
Volunteer health professionals (VHPs) are essential in emergencies to fill surge capacity and provide needed medical expertise. While some VHPs are well-organized and trained, others arrive spontaneously at the site of a disaster. Lacking organization, training, and identification, they may actually impede emergency efforts. Complications involving medical volunteers in New York City after September 11, 2001, led Congress to authorize federal authorities to assist states and territories in developing emergency systems for the advance registration of volunteer health professionals (ESARVHP). Through advance registration, volunteers can be vetted, trained, and mobilized more effectively during emergencies. The use of VHPs, however, raises multiple legal questions: What constitutes an emergency, how is it declared, and what are the consequences? When are volunteers liable for their actions? When may volunteers who are licensed or certified in one state legally practice their profession in another state? Are volunteers entitled to compensation for harms they incur? This article examines the legal framework underlying the registration and use of volunteers during emergencies and offers recommendations for legal reform, including: (1) establish minimum standards to facilitate interjurisdictional emergency response, improve coordination, and enhance reciprocity of licensing and credentialing; (2) develop liability provisions for VHPs that balance their need to respond without significant fear of civil liability with patients' rights to legal recourse for egregious harms; and (3) provide basic levels of protections for VHPs harmed, injured, or killed while responding to emergencies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

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Date posted: September 12, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Hodge, James G. and Gable, Lance and Calves, Stephanie H., Volunteer Health Professionals and Emergencies: Assessing and Transforming the Legal Environment (2005). Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2005; Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 08-27. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1242152

Contact Information

James G. Hodge Jr. (Contact Author)
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
Lance Gable
Wayne State University Law School ( email )
471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States
Stephanie H. Calves
Harvard School of Public Health ( email )
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
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