In 2016 nearly every state enacted legislation addressing opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs, and in 2017 the majority of states have again enacted legislation on this issue. Legislators have been wanting answers to how they can help to curb use and overdoses by expanding access to treatment. Increasing Good Samaritan law immunities are one of the primary paths toward this end they have been investigating
The Myth and the Good Samaritan Law
There is a common misconception among drug users that if a friend or loved one is overdosing, that police will harass the people who call first responders trying to save them. In several states, including Florida, this is simply not the case. Good Samaritan Laws protect the people who called in a life-threatening situation and tried to help. According to the Florida Good Samaritan Act, “any person, including those licensed to practice medicine,” who willingly and in good faith gives emergency medical care or medicine to another in an emergency or crisis situation cannot be liable for any civil damages as a result of providing that help.
The Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone
Overdoses of opioid drugs can be temporarily negated by rapidly giving the patient a drug called naloxone. Naloxone, better known by its brand name Narcan, is a an emergency measure that has been approved by the FDA for treating opioid overdoses. It can be given to someone in several different ways that vary in difficulty but make it accessible for a novice to administer. Naloxone is not psychoactive and so has no potential to be abused and relieves the life-threatening effects of an overdose by 30-90 minutes, which is more than enough time to call an ambulance. Because of this limited window of effectiveness, calling an ambulance is critical as multiple doses may be necessary if overdose symptoms persist.