Five New Orleans nurses file suit

  1. Five New Orleans nurses who were fired and reported to the State Board of Nursing for abandoning patients after Hurricane Katrina are filing suit against Touro Infirmary. The nurses claim they were only following the orders of a supervisor.

    "It was scary, I mean the whole ordeal was terrifying, to say the least," said Bridget Boogaerts. "I never felt safe."

    Boogaerts, one of the nurses filing suit against the New Orleans hospital, said the hospital was without electricity, and food and water supplies were limited. A total of 12 people died in the hospital while she was there, and two days after the storm she and several of her fellow nurses evacuated under a supervisors orders.

    "(We asked the supervisor) What about abandonment? What about our liability here?" Boogaerts said. "And she responded with this is a disaster situation, there is no abandonment by leaving. You simply would be saving your own lives. So there is no liability."

    Full Story: http://2theadvocate.com/livepages4/905.shtml
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    This story will be interesting to see how it unfolds...

    Leaving while on duty is considered abandonment UNLESS one has reported off to the supervisor and another nurse assumed responsibility for care. As comment written above, supervisor provided inaccurate information regarding abandonment.
    Licensed medical and nursing professionals are held to higher standards, just like those of captain of a ship: you don't abandon patients.

    I've yet to see staff members sue their workplace for
    a. Having ineffective adequate evacuation plan.
    b. Failure to have adequate backup generators located in secure location
    c. Not having adequate food/water on hand when stage 4 hurricane coming and mandatory evacuation orders given.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Nov 4, '05
  4. by   Skitskat123
    Skitskat123; Good morning, just wondering if the nurses would have gotten the statement in writing that the situation was disaster and you will not be abandoning the patients; Would that have made a difference; i.e., covered them from being liable?
  5. by   Sheri257
    What a horrible situation. I'm from New Orleans. Grew up there. But I left many years ago because I felt the city was dangerous even before all of this happened.

    My heart sank when I saw three nurses on television burst into tears as they were walking out of the city because that was the only way they could get out. You could see that these nurses went through absolute hell.

    If medical workers are being held up at gunpoint and god knows what else ... which is what happened in many cases ... what are you expected to do? Are you supposed to be shot so you won't be charged with patient abandonment?

    What about the rescue workers who refused to go in because it was a war zone. Will they be charged? Even the cops left. And those cops who did stay ran out of ammo and couldn't defend themselves.

    The whole situation is so sad. It's a no-win situation. It's easy to say you don't abandon patients. But we weren't there in the war zone.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Nov 5, '05
  6. by   RN34TX
    Quote from NRSKarenRN
    This story will be interesting to see how it unfolds...

    Leaving while on duty is considered abandonment UNLESS one has reported off to the supervisor and another nurse assumed responsibility for care. As comment written above, supervisor provided inaccurate information regarding abandonment.
    Licensed medical and nursing professionals are held to higher standards, just like those of captain of a ship: you don't abandon patients.

    I've yet to see staff members sue their workplace for
    a. Having ineffective adequate evacuation plan.
    b. Failure to have adequate backup generators located in secure location
    c. Not having adequate food/water on hand when stage 4 hurricane coming and mandatory evacuation orders given.
    It's not that simple in a hurricane situation and obviously ineffective evacuation plans were clearly an issue here.
    Whether or not not anyone filed lawsuits about evacuation plans or inadequate supplies isn't an indicator that those things didn't happen.

    A good number of nurses at my hospital who were supposed to stay during Rita jumped ship or didn't show up for their shifts the following day when we all saw it heading right toward us.
    Not one nurse was fired, disciplined, or reported to the board as a result.
    They knew they were wrong for trying to keep us open in the first place and attempting to force us all to stay.
    I just wish I would have joined them in the first place instead of staying as long as I did.
    Then again, I guess some people would just be happier to hear that the nurses died along with the patients.
    The captain goes down with the ship, even though the ship could turn to safer waters, it should remain in harm's way and hope for the best.
  7. by   katwoman7755
    Quote from NRSKarenRN
    This story will be interesting to see how it unfolds...

    Leaving while on duty is considered abandonment UNLESS one has reported off to the supervisor and another nurse assumed responsibility for care. As comment written above, supervisor provided inaccurate information regarding abandonment.
    Licensed medical and nursing professionals are held to higher standards, just like those of captain of a ship: you don't abandon patients.

    I've yet to see staff members sue their workplace for
    a. Having ineffective adequate evacuation plan.
    b. Failure to have adequate backup generators located in secure location
    c. Not having adequate food/water on hand when stage 4 hurricane coming and mandatory evacuation orders given.


    I have yet to here anyone do anything but play armchair quarterback from afar to the reality in which we live......I am certain we are open to suggestions as to how you evacuate a million plus people ...many with no transportation and no where to go.....how to have adequate generators when parts of the city were 15-20 ft under water...and the generators that were up high were destroyed by the wind....and adequate food and water??? What a joke....do you know how much food and water you need to have on hand to feed tens of thousands of people for days???? And as far as abandonment.....there was no light at the end of the tunnel for these people....yeah, those sitting and watching CNN while it unfolded had some info that help may eventually come....but try being down there, wading though water, being held up at gunpoint, in the dark, patients dying no matter how hard you try,you are tired, starving, and dehydrating...and you have no idea if anyone will ever come b/c it has been 4 days and you still haven't seen any help......And then people want to point there finger at you and say you abandoned your patients when you barely survived trying to do the best you could???? I have been through more hurricanes than I can count....even had the misfortune of living in fla last year for hurricane season....but this is a disaster that even the best of diaster plans could not help.....and honestly, it makes me sick the way others outside of this area talk as if they could have done so much better.....I hope for your sakes you never have to find out.

    Kathryn
  8. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from NRSKarenRN
    Licensed medical and nursing professionals are held to higher standards, just like those of captain of a ship: you don't abandon patients.

    Karen, I had no idea that we were expected to die with our patients in situations like this. I swear it.


    Oh and P.S. If it were me, I would have left also if it appeared that I had no choice but to save myself. If that makes me a bad nurse, so be it.


    Oh and one more thing, I 'm not so sure that is a fair analogy. The captain of a ship is the one responsible for safely navigating it through the waters and if it goes down, then perhaps he is responsible but the situation in LA is obviously not caused by neglect of the staff and the nurses. I just don't see that way.
    Last edit by SharonH, RN on Nov 5, '05
  9. by   RN34TX
    Quote from lizz
    What a horrible situation. I'm from New Orleans. Grew up there. But I left many years ago because I felt the city was dangerous even before all of this happened.
    I visit NO once or twice each year.
    For years, I've heard the locals talk about the city not being able to survive a major hurricane if one were to hit.
    The locals themselves have long predicted this day for many years.
    I guess I just never really paid much attention to those comments before.
  10. by   Sheri257
    Quote from RN34TX
    I visit NO once or twice each year.
    For years, I've heard the locals talk about the city not being able to survive a major hurricane if one were to hit.
    The locals themselves have long predicted this day for many years.
    I guess I just never really paid much attention to those comments before.
    Yeah ... most of my family left over the years, but I still had a brother and sister who refused to leave. I tried to talk them into leaving for many years, but they wouldn't budge. Now they've got mortgages to pay with no jobs, and no insurance coverage because, while their houses were robbed, there was little actual home damage outside of a couple of broken windows.

    They call New Orleans the "city that care forgot" and it's always been that way.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Nov 6, '05
  11. by   Sheri257
    Quote from katwoman7755
    but try being down there, wading though water, being held up at gunpoint, in the dark, patients dying no matter how hard you try,you are tired, starving, and dehydrating...and you have no idea if anyone will ever come b/c it has been 4 days and you still haven't seen any help......And then people want to point there finger at you and say you abandoned your patients when you barely survived trying to do the best you could???? I have been through more hurricanes than I can count....even had the misfortune of living in fla last year for hurricane season....but this is a disaster that even the best of diaster plans could not help.....and honestly, it makes me sick the way others outside of this area talk as if they could have done so much better.....I hope for your sakes you never have to find out.

    Kathryn
    I agree. This was a situation where even rescue workers were being shot at constantly ... which was one of the reasons help took so long to arrive. I would never judge anyone who decided to leave in that situation.

  12. by   Judee Smudee
    That situtation down there was insane. How can anyone judge anything anyone did or did not do. The people who decided to turn these nurses into the BON must have been insane also. I just pray that someone at the BON has some sense and tosses the whole thing out. Some BON types are biddies and old fuddyduddies but some are reasonable. The bad publicity spawned by this action was totally unnecessary.
  13. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from nrskarenrn
    this story will be interesting to see how it unfolds...

    i've yet to see staff members sue their workplace for
    a. having ineffective adequate evacuation plan.
    b. failure to have adequate backup generators located in secure location
    c. not having adequate food/water on hand when stage 4 hurricane coming and mandatory evacuation orders given.
    but perhaps it's time they did!

    i wasn't there, and i don't have enough information to judge anyone's actions. but it seems to me that none of us should be required to die for our patients.
  14. by   tridil2000
    Quote from ruby vee
    but perhaps it's time they did!

    i wasn't there, and i don't have enough information to judge anyone's actions. but it seems to me that none of us should be required to die for our patients.
    hear hear ruby!

    i am sorry, but if my life were in danger, i would probaby leave too. if i lost my license, i would find another career. my kids can't go find another mother.

    plus, the analogy that a captain doesn't jump ship is a crock. the captains left town the day before katrina and left the shipmates (the staff) behind!!

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