Emergency Response Planning in Hospitals, United States: 2003-2004

Source: Richard W. Niska, and Catharine W. Burt, Division of Health Care Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics, Number 391, August 20, 2007

Objective–This study presents baseline data to determine which hospital characteristics are associated with preparedness for terrorism and natural disaster in the areas of emergency response planning and availability of equipment and specialized care units.

Methods–Information from the Bioterrorism and Mass Casualty Preparedness Supplements to the 2003 and 2004 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys was used to provide national estimates of variations in hospital emergency response plans and resources by residency and medical school affiliation, hospital size, ownership, metropolitan statistical area status, and Joint Commission accreditation. Of 874 sampled hospitals with emergency or outpatient departments, 739 responded for an 84.6 percent response rate. Estimates are presented with 95 percent confidence intervals.

Results–About 92 percent of hospitals had revised their emergency response plans since September 11, 2001, but only about 63 percent had addressed natural disasters and biological, chemical, radiological, and explosive terrorism in those plans. Only about 9 percent of hospitals had provided for all 10 of the response plan components studied. Hospitals had a mean of about 14 personal protective suits, 21 critical care beds, 12 mechanical ventilators, 7 negative pressure isolation rooms, and 2 decontamination showers each. Hospital bed capacity was the factor most consistently associated with emergency response planning and availability of resources.

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