In a recently settled class action lawsuit, Tenet Healthcare Corporation recently settled for $25 million. The number of individuals who participated in the lawsuit is unknown, but those in the class claimed that New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center lack of emergency preparedness caused an unreasonable amount of harm when 2005’s Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.
The Real Cost
An article by ProPublica states that there were almost 1,000 individuals in the hospitals, not counting hospital staff. Out of this population, 187 of the individuals were patients. When the disasters caused by Hurricane Katrina occurred, the backup generators in the hospital failed and help in the form of rescue helicopters did not arrive until two days after the natural disaster. The article reports that the hospital sought the help of the Coast Guard, National Guard, several government and private ambulance companies and FEMA, but the response was frenzied. In the end, rescue workers found 45 bodies at the Memorial Medical Center.
Hurricane Katrina opened the eyes of several health care systems. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported in May 2011 that out of all of the hospitals that participated in the 2009 National Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), only 76 percent of the hospitals met 90 percent of the all-hazards preparedness criteria. While this number is an improvement compared to 2005’s figures, only 85 percent of the more than 6,000 hospitals in the U.S. take advantage of and participate in the HPP.
What’s at Stake for Your Business?
Emergency preparedness and recovery is not just a topic medical centers need to consider, as all businesses are responsible for ensuring the well-being of those on their property if the unthinkable happens. Preparing for the worst can mean the difference between saving the lives or wishing you had taken the time to create an emergency disaster plan. If you are currently not prepared for a disaster, what would a devastating event cost you and your business?
[Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center]