U.S. health systems not ready for catastrophes: report

U.S. health systems not ready for catastrophes: report
Institute of Medicine says better coordination needed for effective response.

(HealthDay) -- In many parts of the United States, the infrastructure and systems to deliver health care during or after catastrophic disasters such as major earthquakes or widespread disease outbreaks are rudimentary at best, experts warn.

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report released Wednesday provides a resource manual to help providers -- hospitals and outpatient clinics, public-health departments, emergency medical systems, public-safety agencies and government offices -- deliver health care as effectively as possible to the greatest number of people during a major disaster.

"When a truly catastrophic event occurs, the nation's health system will be under enormous stress," report committee chairman Lawrence Gostin, associate dean and a professor of global health law at Georgetown University Law Center, said in an IOM news release.

The report recommends a systems-based approach to allocating resources and delivering care during catastrophic events. It also provides the organizations and agencies involved in and response with tools and guidelines to help them identify their core functions during a , the release said.

"Health professionals can bring the best care to the most people by using a systems approach that involves thoughtful coordination among all stakeholders and good planning and coordination among all levels of government," Gostin said. "This report provides an overarching framework for action in such events and provides detailed standards for each responsible group."

Only a few communities in the United States have the level of organization needed to provide oversight and care for a huge number of victims, according to the report.

"Crisis standards of care planning and implementation will significantly increase the likelihood of saved lives and reduced suffering when catastrophic disasters occur," committee vice chairman Dan Hanfling, an and special adviser on and disaster response at Inova Health System in Falls Church, Va., said in the news release.

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about emergency preparedness and response.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Emergency response

Nov 12, 2007

Disasters are getting worse it seems but the federal government's preparedness has been limited to helping after a disaster has occurred. On the other hand, local organizations often do not have the resources or the training ...

Report says U.S. ERs in crisis

Jun 15, 2006

The Institute of Medicine in Washington says the U.S. emergency care system is fragmented and severely compromised in its ability to handle disasters.

Health care volunteers and disasters: First, be prepared

Feb 24, 2010

A surge in volunteers following a major disaster can overwhelm a response system, and without overall coordination, can actually make a situation worse instead of better .The outpouring of medical volunteers who responded ...

Recommended for you

A case for treating both mind and body

1 hour ago

New research from Rutgers University lends more support to the idea that integrating treatment of mind and body could lead to better - and cheaper - medical care.

Pregnant woman taken off life support in Ireland

Dec 26, 2014

A brain-dead pregnant woman was taken off life support Friday after a court ruled that her 18-week-old fetus was doomed to die—a case that exposed fear and confusion among doctors over how to apply Ireland's ...

'Tis the season to overeat

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Overeating is common during the holidays, but there are strategies that can help you eat in moderation, an expert says.

Don't let burns mar your holidays

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—The risk of burns from fires and cooking accidents increases during the holidays, so you need to be extra cautious, an expert says.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.