Safety

Katrina physician: More steps needed in disaster preparation

Hospital Safety Insider, April 9, 2008

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Hospitals and the government need to take further steps to better prepare for community catastrophes, according to a physician who got caught in a legal storm following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
 
Anna Maria Pou, MD, offered her thoughts in a brief letter sent to the New England Journal of Medicine and published April 3. Pou was among three clinicians working at Memorial Medical Center who were later arrested by Louisiana authorities for allegedly euthanizing patients as conditions at the hospital worsened in the aftermath of Katrina. However, a grand jury refused to indict Pou, who denies all of the allegations.
 
Pou wrote that the following concerns still need to be addressed by the healthcare industry:
  • Training for physicians and others in disaster triage
  • Education of healthcare workers about military evacuation protocols
  • The need for hospital owners and administrators to use tested emergency plans during catastrophes, including the possibility of total hospital evacuation
  • The protection of clinicians from criminal charges and civil suits when they provide medical services during a federally declared emergency
  • The need for medical and ethical guidelines for disaster care
Pou still faces civil lawsuits stemming from her arrest.



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