In the wake of one of the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history, it is the responsibility of all Americans to make sacrifices in order to help those in need. Thankfully, countless numbers of benevolent persons have made these sacrifices and are willing to help. To my surprise, however, there have been reports that some lawyers are trying to profit off the misfortunes of others and have been unwilling to make any sort of sacrifice for those in need.
In the days prior to the storm that ravaged New Orleans, many hospitals were faced with the question of whether or not to evacuate their patients out of the city. Most of these hospitals were stocked with supplies and were able to withstand any hurricane. Some of these hospitals decided that it was not in their best interest to evacuate because in previous evacuations of the city, there were instances of patients dying while stuck in traffic on hot busses used to evacuate the hospitals.
In some of these hospitals, patients who were not evacuated were killed by the flood waters or the lack of supplies in the days after the storm. The nurses and doctors in these hospitals risked their lives for their patients and waited out the storm with them. Many even stayed behind as flood waters began to rise. Even in the days after the storm – when the supplies needed from FEMA and other government agencies had not yet arrived – many caregivers still remained behind to help those in need.
According to The Dallas Morning News, there are a number of lawsuits planned against those hospitals that found themselves caught in the way of the deadly flood waters. Such lawsuits can be viewed as nothing short of a slap in the face to these brave doctors and nurses. The New York Times reported that the suits may cause many of these valiant caregivers to lose their jobs. The caregivers who stayed behind are being blamed for the death of those who they stayed behind to care for. These lawsuits are a clear representation of the greed of a few despicable people who plan to profit off the misfortune of those who tried so hard – and in some cases gave their lives – to save others.
The Times reported that these lawsuits will harm more than just those being sued. They will hinder the post-hurricane rebuilding efforts, as funds will be used to defend hospitals instead of rebuilding them. Many lawyers that should be providing services such as filing bankruptcy and insurance claims to those in need will instead be called upon to defend these hospitals and care centers.
Besides diverting necessary funds and resources from relief efforts, these frivolous lawsuits will deter many other caregivers from risking their lives in emergency situations. Those who stayed behind with the patients after the floods are being affect most directly by these suits, so in future crises caregivers may decide to flee rather than stay to help for fear of legal action.
What the lawyers who are filing these heinous lawsuits fail to realize is that these doctors and nurses did all that they could given the situation. Their hospitals were surrounded by water and unable to receive supplies. Some could not evacuate for up to five days. Those who are being most negatively affected by these suits did everything that was in their power to save all the lives they could. It seems clear that it is not the fault of these courageous doctors that some of the sick in New Orleans died in the wake of Katrina.
It is clear where the fault lies. Instead of wasting time filing suits that affect those who put their life on the line for others, it may be more appropriate to take actions against those whose negligence helped cause such a disaster. The Bush administration’s mistakes and use of the spoils system are what led to the failing of the levies in New Orleans. The deaths of many patients in New Orleans’ hospitals were not caused by the brave actions of doctors and nurses, but by the irresponsibility of those in charge. It is more appropriate to bring legal actions against those whose errors caused the horrific situation our nation now finds itself in, rather than punish the caretakers who risked their lives for their patients.