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Article
Assessing Liability for Health Care Entities that Insufficiently Prepare for Catastrophic Emergencies
Journal of the American Medical Association
  • James G. Hodge, Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
  • Erin C. Fuse Brown, Georgia State University College of Law
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2011
Abstract
Lawsuits against hospitals and other health care entities alleging liability for patient harms are brought and settled routinely in the United States. However, the settlement by health care giant Tenet Healthcare, on the eve of trial on March 23, 2011, in Preston v Tenet Health system Memorial Medical Center, falls outside the norm of routine entity liability cases. The class of plaintiffs in New Orleans alleged not just that Tenet's emergency responses at its Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina were insufficient but that Tenet's failure to prepare for a foreseeable emergency caused their harms. Avoiding the prospect of a negative judgment at trial, Tenet's settlement implicates the increasing potential for health care entities to incur liability for deficiencies in emergency preparedness. It may renew demands to immunize entities from liability in future emergencies and requires a reassessment of the legal standard by which hospitals and other health care entities may be judged.
DOI
10.1001/jama.2011.996
Citation Information
James G. Hodge & Erin Fuse Brown, Assessing Liability for Health Care Entities that Insufficiently Prepare for Catastrophic Emergencies, 306 J. Am. Med. Ass'n 308 (2011).