Hospitals are far more vulnerable than they appear. Even a brief power outage can place patients at risk. Below, we highlight a few examples of the perils prompted by natural disasters and accidental outages:
The Peril of Natural Disasters
Hurricane Katrina serves as a particularly notable example of the havoc natural disasters can wreak on otherwise reliable hospitals. Many survivors recall the terrors that overtook medical professionals and patients alike as floodwaters approached Memorial Medical Center, where the power was quickly knocked out — and where temperatures soon exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Eventually, staff members were forced to evacuate patients under extremely difficult conditions. A later investigation of the events that occurred during the hurricane sought to determine whether “human beings were killed as a result of actions by doctors.” While this particular case prompted the most controversy, Memorial Medical Center was one of just several facilities in which patients suffered greatly.
Accidental Power Outages
Not all hospital power outages occur in response to natural disasters. Accidental outages can also place patients at risk. A story published in The Detroit News in January, 2019, highlights the frightening situation at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital, where the power went down simply because an electric cable was accidentally cut.
During this incident, the hospital ran on partial power offered by generators, as mandated by state law. Unfortunately, insufficient power prevented doctors from performing a potentially life-saving measure for a patient suffering a blockage of the arteries. Additionally, the loss of power made the hospital’s staff members reluctant to transfer this patient via the elevator. By the time the patient was finally transferred to another hospital, it was too late.
Safe and secure premises are paramount for health care organizations. If a lack thereof has caused you or a loved one to suffer, it’s worth your while to speak up. You’ll find valuable assistance from Regan Zambri Long PLLC—a top medical malpractice resource.