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Austin Hospital Crash: A Catalyst for Change in Emergency Room Safety"

On Feb. 13, 2024, at 5:35 p.m., an Acura sedan slammed through the emergency room doors at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center.  One person died, and five others were seriously injured.  Within a week, we had begun sharing data and working with parties in Austin to identify what had happened, why it had happened, and how it could have been prevented.  Out of those discussions has come "Preventing DisastER" a multi-month effort to document the causes and frequency of crashes into medical facilities and critical infrastructure including hospital emergency rooms.

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Investigative Summary:

When a car slammed into an Austin emergency room in early 2024, killing the driver and injuring five others, KXAN investigators dug into the safety concerns surrounding a hospital without security barriers at its entrance. Over the next three months, our team traveled to dozens of hospitals across Central Texas, analyzed similar crashes across the state and broadened the scope of our research nationwide. We discovered more than 300 such crashes at medical centers in the last decade and also learned there is no legal requirement or industry standard for security barriers that could stop them from happening. For the first time since the Austin incident, a family of four seriously hurt speaks out – and we witness crash tests conducted by a company building barriers it says could help save lives. Explore the project and continuing coverage below.

Look for updates about efforts to create an Austin city ordinance requiring protective bollards at exposed emergency room entrances, discussions with state legislators in Texas to create a statewide critical infrastructure protection measure, and the creation of partnerships among medical groups, hospital owners and administrators, and safety organizations nationwide to provide answers to questions as to the need for protection of a critical civilian resource against foreseeable and preventable events.

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