Malpractice lawsuits against physicians or other health care professionals volunteering in free clinics are extremely rare. The patients are grateful to receive free medical care, and ordinarily the conditions treated are low risk cases.
- Michigan Good Samaritan Law - Public Act 172 (2002)
Model form which meets the requirements of PA 172: Authorization for Medical Treatment and Release of Information
- Michigan Public Act 591 (2006)
Michigan law specific to retired physicians and dentists which provides for them a special free license for volunteering to provide free care to the uninsured. It provides immunity for volunteer licensed health professionals, including physicians, in free clinics.
Application for license
- Michigan P.A. 94 (2011) protects licensed health care providers who volunteer their services at nonprofit clinics from lawsuits. Similar protections are already extended to retired health care workers who volunteer their time. Nonprofit clinics that provide health care to low-income residents who might not otherwise have access to health care are also protected from lawsuits under this bill.
- Federal Volunteer Protection Act (VPA)
The Act provides civil liability protection for non-profit or government volunteers if the volunteer was acting within the scope of his/her responsibility, they were properly licensed, certified or authorized to engage in the activity or practice (if required by the state in which the damage occurred) and those activities were within the scope of the volunteer's responsibility. It also requires that the harm not be caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct or a "conscious, flagrant indifference" to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.
- Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
provides immunity to volunteer physicians as though they were federal employees. Requires a 27-page credentialing process for each provider. Recommend that free clinics enlist the help of your local hospital’s Medical Staff Office in this credentialing process. Free clinics in Cadillac, Jackson, Ferndale and Joy-Southfield Clinic in Detroit participate.
More information available from US Department of Health & Human Resources
- Most private practitioners purchase their own policy which covers them wherever they practice, including volunteer time at a free clinic.
- Some health systems, because they expect their employees to do community service, extend their coverage to their employees who volunteer at a free clinic—even to retirees.
Liability Coverage Summary