When disaster hits, where does the standard of care go?

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On July 22, 2011, it was reported in the news that a $25 milliondollar settlement was reached in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Memorial Medical Center in Louisiana failed to adequately prepare for the devastating catastrophe known as Hurricane Katrina. This magnitude of a claim raises serious questions regarding the viability of lawsuits and the lack of immunity available to hospital facilities, physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers for the provision of emergency aid during national disasters. This article is intended to address one aspect of the legal issues facing healthcare providers and to analyze the standard of care by which facilities and individual providers may be judged, measured and assessed following national disasters.

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