Lawsuit over patient death may set precedent in hospital liability during emergency

Emergency Management Alert, January 5, 2010

A number of lawsuits are keeping alive the debate on hospital liability in the event of emergencies and disasters, according to the New York Times.

According to the Times, about 200 lawsuits have been filed in Louisiana concerning patient deaths or patient care after Katrina. One lawsuit, filed by the family of Althea LaCoste, a 73-year old patient who died in Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, claims that Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital failed to move its basement generator after then executive vice president assessed the hospital's vulnerability and stated that to protect the hospital, a $7.5 million project was necessary to move the generator. The project was never implemented.

The trial begins January 4, 2010. Experts say the trial could set precedent as to how liable hospitals nationwide are in an emergency.

Source: New York Times

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