On July 10, 2018, reports indicate that a construction worker hit an underground power line in Richmond, Virginia. While this type of accident may happen more than you know, this incident cut power to Chippenham Hospital, including both the main power source and backup generator. The hospital ordered the emergency relocation of 11 patients to sister hospitals due to their critical condition.
While the power came back on at Chippenham Hospital later the same day, any such incident at a hospital puts all patients at serious risk of unnecessary harm. Moving a critically-ill patient requires significant preparation and attention. Often, such transport needs a mobile intensive care unit (ICU) and a team of critical care nurses ready to respond to any emergencies. Even with all the standard precautions, transporting critically ill or injured patients can result in life-threatening complications and additional harm.
The risks increase for patients in less critical condition, as well. Anyone who is in the hospital needs medical attention, monitoring, and care. Nurses and doctors use a variety of machines and monitors to know when a patient’s vital signs drop and respond accordingly. Additionally, hospitals have specially-designed HVAC systems that help keep the environment sterile and hygienic to prevent bacteria and infections for already ill patients. Proper lighting is also necessary for medical professionals to perform even the most basic procedures. A power outage will affect all of these aspects of hospital care.
When both the main power and generator fail, mistakes can occur in many areas of the hospital. If a patient is in active labor or delivery of a child, they cannot wait until the power comes back on. If someone requires an emergency c-section or another type of emergency surgery, surgeons cannot perform these procedures without proper sterilization, monitors, or lighting in operating rooms. Because Chippenham has 466 beds and only moved 11 patients, it means that up to 455 patients remained at risk in a hospital with no power.
Who Is Liable for Injuries?
To determine liability for injuries stemming from a hospital power outage, we have to ask many questions, including what caused the outage. In the Chippenham situation, the outage occurred due to construction. Should the construction worker have known about the power line? Was the placement of the power line dangerous? The construction company, the utility company, or both may be negligent and liable for injuries in this situation.
Even though the hospital was not directly responsible for the outage, it still may face liability for any resulting injuries. Chippenham is a facility in the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) network, which owns hundreds of for-profit facilities throughout the United States. Like every hospital, HCA hospitals should have proper contingency plans to keep patients safe and generators working during power blackouts. Our attorneys always examine the hospital’s potential liability, as well.
Our Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers Are Ready to Help after an Injury
Hospital power outages happen more often than you may think. If you suffered unnecessary injuries in the hospital, you may have a claim based on hospital malpractice or the negligence of another party. At Emroch & Kilduff, our accident and injury attorneys handle complex cases throughout Virginia. Call our office today at (804) 358-1568 or send us an email through our online contact form