Medical Malpractice and Disaster Preparedness

Medical Malpractice and Disaster Preparedness–January is not the customary time for healthcare professionals to review their Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Plans–but maybe it should be. Better yet, it might be advisable to review plans and conduct in-service staff training on a quarterly basis. I’m reading Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, a detailed account of the events during and after Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, LA. It is a sobering account and a cautionary tale for Medical Professionals. The saying no good deed goes unpunished comes to mind. In no way would we construe allegations of euthanasia as a good deed; however, an overriding desire to mitigate and alleviate horrible pain and suffering is a quality we hope for in all our care givers. Employed physicians, nurses and ancillary healthcare professionals should take note of how events can unfold in a time of crisis and how actions will be viewed down the line, out of the context of the crisis. Heroic caregivers who put their own lives at risk to care for their patients and who dutifully “followed orders” may be thrown under the bus. Most medical malpractice insurance companies have seminars and/or publications to assist and support the efforts of their insureds in the area of emergency preparedness. It would be a best practice to take advantage of these services, and review and update disaster preparedness plans on a regular basis.

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