Katrina Death Trial May Raise Stakes for Hospital Emergency Planning
A wind storm knocked out power to the hospital that month, which activated a surge protector and generator. But the surge protector only had enough battery power to last two hours.
Additionally, areas of the hospital that provide essential medical services weren't attached to the generator, which the CEO didn't know about. Engineers at the hospital had allegedly assured the CEO in the past that the generator had enough capacity to handle the facility's needs.
There have been other post-disaster critiques that have pointed to infrastructure flaws and incomplete staff member education as potential risks in future emergencies.
For example, following a severe ice storm in December 2008, Heywood Hospital in Gardner, MA, stayed on generator power for 48 hours. Hospital managers noted that some ICU areas had no power to bathrooms or vending machines, yet the Christmas lights remained on, according to HCPro's Briefings on Hospital Safety.
That irony indicated a lack of understanding about which electrical outlets emergency power will supply.
Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for the Hospital Safety Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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