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Emergency Legal Preparedness for Hospitals and Health Care Personnel

  • James G. Hodge, Andrea M. Garcia, Evan D. Anderson and Torrey Kaufman

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. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2009;3(Suppl 1):S37–S44)

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to James G. Hodge Jr, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Hampton House, Room 513, 624 N Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205-1996(e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
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