HITS beyond: Disaster simulation can help major cities, hospitals plan

Source: Andis Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, June 4, 2009
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Computer simulations can be used to improve U.S. hospital disaster preparations, according to a study in the American Medical Association’s Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal which modeled a release of poisonous sarin vapor in Manhattan public transportation centers that had the potential to expose some 22,000 people to its harmful effects leading to 178 intensive-care unit admissions. Researchers used population statistics, and plugged in data on the New York City borough’s healthcare resources such as available hospital beds, emergency department services, hospital surge capacity, variable exposure effects, and behavioral and psycho-social characteristics to mimic response to an attack. According to the simulation report, “A Novel Approach to Multihazard Modeling and Simulation,” (subscription required) implementing disaster plans within 30 minutes compared to two hours diminished mortality and waiting times and reduced the number of patients who were severely affected.

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