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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 6, 2018 01:44 PM
From: Senator Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Drug Overdose Good Samaritan Law Amendment
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation (SB 654 of the 2017-18 Session) that will toughen existing state law related to drug overdoses.

Pennsylvania’s current Good Samaritan Law, Act 139 of 2014, provides immunity to an individual for minor drug possession offenses when he or she seeks emergency medical assistance for a drug overdose. The law is meant to encourage people to quickly report overdoses to emergency personnel without fearing legal repercussions. Under the law, individuals experiencing an overdose are also immune from prosecution.

Since 2014, law enforcement and emergency responders have expressed concern that they have repeatedly responded to the same location four or more times to witness the same individual experiencing a drug overdose, and who has ultimately refused treatment once revived with Naloxone.

Under my bill, an overdose victim will be required to obtain treatment within 30 days after receiving emergency medical assistance in order to qualify for immunity or face jail time.

After listening to many first responders, I believe that we can no longer give individuals suffering from an opioid or other drug-related overdose a free pass, only to have them overdose a second or subsequent time and risk dying. It is vitally important that we get them into treatment as quickly as possible. If they refuse treatment, they can face imminent jail time. My legislation does not eliminate the immunity provision for those people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose.

I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation that can aid in the fight of this statewide health crisis.

Introduced as SB876