I never know whether to put these types of questions in IMHO or GQ, so bear with me.
Discovery Times had on an hour long show about the Oklahoma City bombing today. (Can you believe next year will be ten years?) Anyway, one of the children was rescued and rushed to the hospital with a hunk of rock imbedded in his skull. His father is at the Red Cross building two blocks away from the hospital awaiting word on where his son is, not knowing his toddler is in surgery at the hospital.
This got me thinking about how hospitals handle disasters. You get a rush in of injured patients, in the case of the OKC bombing, some of them children. Obviously you don’t know where the parents are and cannot obtain permission to operate or even make a copy of the insurance card.
At that point, does the hospital say “Screw it” and start taking care of patients with the only priority being saving lives? On Sept 11, did NY and Washington DC hospitals even worry about keeping charts?
I don’t want this to come across as cold, that the billing department should be keeping track of every morphine drip and every cotton swab used in the middle of a disaster, and I know OKC and Sept 11 were major exceptions. But what happens when there’s a huge influx of patients from a sixteen car pileup on an icy road? Does the Good Samaritan rule kick in at that point, and petty administrative details like insurance cards and invoices fall by the wayside?