Why do hospital generators keep failing?

November 2, 2012 by MassDevice

Hospital workers evacuate a patient from NYU Langone Medical Center during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29, in New York City. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Hospital workers evacuate a patient from NYU Langone Medical Center during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29, in New York City. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

by Charles Ornstein,
ProPublica

It is a hospital's nightmare: The power goes out and backup generators don't kick in, leaving critically ill patients without the mechanical help they need to breathe.

It happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, when hospital staff were on their own when electricity and water cut out. Some died.

It happened last year in San Diego, when generators at two hospitals failed during a blackout.

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And it happened last year in Connecticut, when a hospital had to be evacuated during Hurricane Irene when its generator failed.

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