Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - Legal Issues Concerning Volunteer Health Personnel

In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast region, volunteer medical personnel have been utilized to provide medical assistance to a large number of impacted persons. Many of our nation's health professionals have been eager and willing to provide volunteer health services. Utilizing these volunteers in times of an emergency, however, presents challenges for hospital, public health, and emergency authorities, and raises a host of legal issues.

During the hurricane emergencies and their aftermath, the Center has been contacted by federal, state, and local government representatives and private entities seeking information regarding the legal issues associated with volunteer health personnel participating in the response to the hurricanes. In response, the Center has developed (or made available) several memoranda, tables, articles, and other documents to provide information and analysis for volunteers and their coordinators. These resources can be accessed in PDF format through the links below:

Disclaimer - This information does not represent the official legal positions of any federal, state, or local government agency or entity that provide funding to the Center, nor is it meant to provide specific legal guidance or advice. Volunteer health personnel and their coordinators should contact their local, state, territorial, or federal legal advisors for specific legal guidance.

In addition, in conjunction with our work on the ESAR-VHP Legal and Regulatory Issues Project, the Center has developed several resources to provide states and territories with information, contacts, and resources to assist in the assessment of many of the legal issues that arise in the implementation of ESAR-VHP. These resources provide information regarding the general legal framework for the use of volunteer health professionals in emergencies for all states that are presently in the course of implementing ESAR-VHP programs. For more information on this project, click here.

Additional links of potential relevance include:

Please contact Center personnel below with any questions related to these or other issues .

James G. Hodge, Jr., J.D., LL.M., Executive Director, Center for Law and the Public’s Health