Obtaining Consent

Things You Should Always Do Before Giving Aid

Before giving aid to a conscious adult, you must obtain his or her permission to give care. This permission is referred to as consent. A conscious person has the right to either accept or refuse care.

To Get Consent from Conscious Person

  • State your name
  • Tell the person that you are trained in CPR/first aid
  • Tell the person that you can help
  • Tell what you think may be wrong
  • Explain what you plan to do
Important Things to Remember
  • NEVER give care to a conscious person who refuses your help
  • If a person refuses your assistance, call 9-1-1 or you local EMS number
  • If the conscious person is a child or infant, request consent from the parent or guardian if possible.
  • Consent is also implied for an infant or child if a parent or guardian is not present or available.
  • If the person is unconscious or unable to respond due to the illness or injury, consent is implied.
  • Implied consent means you can assume that if the person could respond, he or she would agree to be cared for.

Good Samaritan Laws

Best Practice
All rescuers should not be afraid of liability affecting them whilst performing their duties. In many cases, it is often best to provide care and to do so to the best of your ability without worry of legal implications.

Good Samaritan laws in the United States and Canada are laws that reduce the liability to those who choose to aid others who are injured or ill, though it does not protect you from being sued; it just significantly reduces your liability. They are intended to reduce bystanders’ hesitation to assist, for fear of being prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death. In other countries, Good Samaritan laws describe a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress, unless doing so would put themselves in harm’s way. Citizens are often required to, at minimum, call the local emergency number.

Check with your local government for applicable legislation in your area. Typically, the Good Samaritan legislation does not cover an individual who exceeds their training level or scope of practice; nor would you be protected against gross negligence.

General guidelines

1. Unless a caretaker relationship (such as a parent-child or doctor-patient relationship) exists prior to the illness or injury, or the “Good Samaritan” is responsible for the existence of the illness or injury, no person is required to give aid of any sort to a victim.

2. Any first aid provided must not be in exchange.

3. The responder is not legally liable for the death, disfigurement or disability of the victim as long as the responder acted rationally, in good faith, and in accordance with their level of training.


Negligence requires three elements to be proven:

1. Duty of care

  • You had a duty to care for the victim
  • Often, if you begin first aid, then a duty of care exists

2. Standard of care was not met

  • You didn’t perform first aid properly, or went beyond your level of training
  • The standard of care is what a reasonable person with similar training would do in similar circumstances

3. Causation

  • The damages caused were your fault
  • Causation requires proof that your act or omission caused the damages

Assisting with Medications

Assisting with medications can be a vital component during a medical emergency. Assisting with medications includes helping the victim locate the medication, taking the cap off of a bottle of pills, and reading the label to ensure that the victim is going to take the right medication. Assisting, however, does not imply actually administering the medication — this is an advanced level skill, which, if done, may open you up to liability from going beyond your level of training. However, by assisting, you may be able to help the victim find their medications more quickly, resulting in an improved outcome.

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