Living in Spokane, Washington, it is hard to image the devastation caused by natural events such as an earthquake or hurricane. For example, the power and devastation of the recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan is unbelievable. Such an event affects nearly all aspects of society for a long time, including the law. Even in the United States, we are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Next Monday (March 28), a trial will begin regarding a class action suit against Memorial Medical Center, a New Orleans hospital, and its corporate overseer, Tenat Healthcare. The question presented is: should Memorial and Tenat be held accountable for the deaths and injuries of its patients who were marooned by the floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina. The suit focuses on the inadequacies of Memorial’s backup electrical system and failed plans for patient care and evacuation. In addition, the trial will center around Memorial’s alleged lack of a comprehensive emergency plan.
Depending on the verdict, this type of suit could have long-lasting implications, even for hospitals in relative safe areas, such as Spokane, Washington. President Obama is trying to pass regulations that would address the various “systemic gaps” in hospital emergency procedures. However, if successful, this class action suit could prompt hospitals to evaluate and amend their procedures regardless of whether federal regulations are passed.