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July 6, 1994

Liability Immunity for Physician Volunteers

Author Affiliations

Kemp, Texas
Clarion, Iowa

JAMA. 1994;272(1):31. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520010041024

To the Editor.  —Many physicians who entered the medical profession with an idea of ministering to the underprivileged are frustrated. They think of volunteering as a means of restoring a balance to their lives, but are severely constrained by high malpractice costs.The state of Virginia set a precedent when it passed a state law in 1983 (amended in 1992 and 1994) that holds volunteers at free clinics throughout the state free of liability (Va Code ch 1, Title 54.1-1.06 §32.1-127.3). This law was essential in convincing physicians to volunteer.1 Utah (§58-12-3.5.), North Carolina (GS 90-21.14, §1), Florida (§766.1115), Kentucky (Ky Rev Stat ch 42), and South Carolina (§33-55-210) also passed legislation granting liability immunity with various restrictions to physicians providing free care at eligible places. The intent is to protect the volunteer from frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits; all states mentioned allow for recovery when physicians act in a

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