Five New Orleans nurses file suit

Brett Troxler, Advocate

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."

Attorney Jill Craft said the nurses did exactly what they were told to do, but hospital President Les Hirsch said, "We would disagree with their assessment. We believe it is without merit."

According to the lawsuit, the supervisor claims her words concerning liability could have been misinterpreted. The five nurses could lose their licenses for abandonment should the State Board of Nursing decide so.

As reported Nov. 2 on News 2 Louisiana. If you have information or comments related to this story, e-mail them to news@wbrz.com.