Emergency Legal Preparedness for Hospitals and Health Care Personnel

Centers for Law and the Public's Health: A Collaborative at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities, USA.
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness (Impact Factor: 0.7). 07/2009; 3(2 Suppl):S37-44. DOI: 10.1097/DMP.0b013e31819d977c
Source: PubMed


During the past decade, hospital emergency preparedness has become a focus of local, state, and federal governments seeking to address emergencies or disasters that affect the public health. Integral to hospital emergency preparedness are numerous legal challenges that hospitals and their health care personnel face during declared states of emergencies. In this article, we evaluate legal requirements for hospital emergency preparedness, key legal concerns that hospitals should consider in emergency preparedness activities, and how the changing legal landscape during emergencies necessitates real-time decision making. We then analyze legal issues including negligence, discrimination, and criminal culpability that may arise during or after medical triage. Finally, we examine the legal risks of evading preparedness, specifically asking how a hospital and its personnel may be held liable for failing to plan or prepare for an emergency.

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    • "Hospitals and health care personnel may be liable for a failure to plan for emergencies if it is determined that they had a duty to plan, the duty was breached, and the breach was the proximate cause of harm to patients. Furthermore risks of liability, discrimination, and other claims stemming from the provision of medical triage necessitate transparency accountability, and fairness in making triage decisions.5 "
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