January 12, 2010 | | Comments 1
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Generators act as protagonists in a Katrina-themed court case

I wrote an article for HCPro’s sister company, HealthLeaders Media, about a trial going on in New Orleans that, believe it or not, may connect a patient death following Hurricane Katrina to poor emergency generator system design.

How many times have you either personally experienced or read about post-drill critiques that recommend infrastructure changes due to emergency power concerns? I hear about it a lot in covering hospital safety.

The family of deceased patient Althea LaCoste says she was on a mechanical ventilator when regular and emergency power failed at Pendleton Methodist Hospital during Katrina in 2005.

The hospital had two generators: one near the ground floor and one on the roof of the building. The plaintiff argues that if the hospital had invested in a $10,000 submersible fuel pump, the roof generator might have kept operating, according to a January 4 article in The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Hospital lawyers said in court documents that Katrina’s aftermath was unforeseeable, that the facility was not negligent, and that the emergency power system met or exceeded electrical codes, The Times-Picayune reported.

Keep your ears open for any news of a verdict or settlement, because it could change the way hospitals do business.

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Scott Wallask About the Author: Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center (www.hospitalsafetycenter.com) and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at swallask@hcpro.com.

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  1. what is the follow up on this case?

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