Monday, September 19, 2005



By Elaine Meinel Supkis

The stories bubbling out of hurricane Katrina never seem to end, do they? Here is the latest: From the Telegraph (England):
Refugees from New Orleans died after private doctors were ordered to stop giving treatment because they were not covered by United States government medical liability insurance, according to two American surgeons.

Mark N Perlmutter, an orthap├Ždic surgeon from Pennsylvania, was told by a senior US Coast Guard officer representing the embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) that he must leave the overstretched disaster relief hospital at New Orleans airport.
They had patients lying on the luggage carousels and counter tops and all over the floor on stretchers or whatever was lying about. It looked like a war zone.

People died there.
He had applied a chest compression after a female patient died and was turning to another critically ill woman at the triage reception area on the airport tarmac when he was summoned to see Capt Art French, the doctor in charge of the hospital.

"The other lady was in equally bad shape and I was not able to work on her. When I went back afterward to get my supplies they were taking her body to a store where the deceased were being placed.

"It's absolutely possible I would have saved her life but I was denied permission to try." An estimated 20 to 30 patients died at the temporary hospital that day.

Dr Perlmutter arrived with Clark Gerhart, a surgeon colleague, and Alison Torrens, from Co Antrim, a medical student at Aberdeen University. All three had volunteered their services free of charge.

It was five days after Hurricane Katrina had struck but all three were struck by the sense of chaos. "It was like something out of a film," said Miss Torrens. "I couldn't believe I was in the middle of America. There were people lying on the luggage racks. Every single patient was in a pool of urine or had soiled themselves."

The surgeons said that the medical staff there had welcomed their arrival and needed trained doctors.

"They were just swamped," said Dr Gerhart. The surgeons, however, were told they could not work there without Fema credentials, which could not be issued even though they had their medical licences with them.

"[Capt French's] words were, 'We don't have any way to do credentialing and no way to ensure tort liability coverage'. How any one could utter those words in the middle of a catastrophe I do not know."
Yup. The FEMA dudes worried about lawyers while surrounded by dying people! I wonder that they didn't check for insurance and other things, too! The final solution was to fly the doctors to another city, fill out paperwork and then return the now dead patients.

I hope their families sue FEMA. Gads.

In the NYT there was an article today (I am pissed at them for charging for their dumb editorials) about how the people from a charity hospital had to wait until the STAFF of the for profit hospital were taken out even though the charity patients were dying. They came last, evidently.

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