New app could expose doctors to legal risks

The GoodSAM (Smartphone Activated Medics) app allows doctors and other medicos to register and be alerted when a member of the public uses it to report an emergency they have witnessed close by.

Medical indemnity group Avant warned today that in NSW and the Northern Territory, doctors who have the app turned on could be exposed to legal risk if they fail to respond to a request for assistance.

They could limit their exposure by turning off the app when they are not willing to respond to an alert, said Avant’s special counsel for medico-legal advice and health law, Kate Gillman.

While doctors do not have a common-law duty to provide assistance in the absence of an existing doctor-patient relationship, a difference in the NSW version of the National Law and a provision of the NT criminal code complicate the situation, Ms Gillman said.

“In the NT, it is a criminal offence if a doctor ‘callously’ fails to provide