Source: Eric Toner, Richard Waldhorn, Crystal Franco, Brooke Courtney, Kunal Rambhia, Ann Norwood, Thomas V. Inglesby, Tara O’Toole, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Center for Biosecurity, Evaluation Report, March 2009
Hospitals are the backbone of the healthcare response to common medical disasters (i.e., mass casualty events that occur with relative frequency, overwhelm a single hospital, and require a communitywide health response) and, in particular, to catastrophic emergencies, such as an influenza pandemic or large-scale aerosolized anthrax attack. The need for hospitals to be prepared to respond to disasters has increasingly become a priority for hospital leaders. They have been influenced by events such as the 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina and the increased emphasis placed by accreditation organizations and regulatory agencies on the importance of such disasters.
– Disaster preparedness of individual hospitals has improved significantly throughout the country since the start of the HPP.
– The emergence of Healthcare Coalitions is creating a foundation for U.S. healthcare preparedness.
– Healthcare planning for catastrophic emergencies is in early stages; progress will require additional assistance and direction at the national level.
– Surge capacity and capability goals, assessment of training, and analysis of performance during actual events and realistic exercises are the most useful indicators for measuring preparedness.
– To prepare the nation to respond to catastrophic emergencies, HHS should provide continued leadership to assist states in their efforts to address the many procedural, ethical, legal, and practical problems posed by a shift to disaster standards and alternate care facilities (ACFs) that is required when demand for care overwhelms available resources.
– Catastrophic emergency preparedness is a national security issue and requires the continued funding of the HPP.