While the disaster created by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is one example of a catastrophic even, other areas of the country may suffer from earthquakes or other natural disasters. The potential for terrorist attack involving biological, chemical or nuclear attacks must be a part of national preparation. If any of these situations occur and massive casualties are suffered, physicians will face "battlefield" triage conditions, and will be forced to "save those they can save,' inherently putting other needy patients at additional, unintentional risk.
The reality in such a situation is that there will be numerous deaths, grieving families who may bring litigation and prosecutors who may investigate medical judgment during those disasters without any real experience in disaster medicine. If physicians and other medical personnel are to "answer the call" to assist during these disasters in the future, additional protections are necessary - not merely to "protect" the physicians, but to better serve future patients during such a crisis.