Preparing Hospitals and Clinics for the Psychological Consequences of a Terrorist Incident or Other Public Health Emergency

Source: RAND Corporation

Health care facilities usually have general disaster plans for dealing with the medical consequences of public health emergencies. However, most of their disaster plans do not address the psychological consequences of such events. These training manuals are designed to fill the gap by providing curricula that can be used to train hospital and clinic staff and department of mental health staff who would be deployed to hospitals and clinics about how to prepare for and respond to the psychological consequences of large-scale disasters. Meredith et al. include three separate training modules to address the needs of three audiences: (1) administrators and disaster planning and response staff in hospitals and clinics; (2) clinical, mental health, and non-clinical staff in hospitals and clinics; (3) disaster mental health staff in Los Angeles County. Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other large-scale public health emergencies such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or pandemic flu can result in a large number of psychological casualties. Large-scale disasters can stress the capacity of hospitals and clinics to deal with the psychological consequences — the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive reactions — that could result from a terrorist or other public health event for victims, families, and staff members. The materials in these manuals are intended to be flexible so that hospital and clinic disaster coordinators can tailor a training session to the needs of local staff.

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