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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: October 2009

7 - Augmentation of health care capacity in large-scale disasters

Summary

Many health care facilities have their own disaster plans for mitigation and management of major incidents. Based on their determined capacities, these facilities can cope with the expected risks. Large-scale disasters such as wars and weather-related disasters may hit the health care facilities any time. For that, these facilities should plan to cope with a devastating volume of health burden. Hospitals cannot face such large-scale disasters without putting a plan to increase their capacity. As stated by Hick et al. (2004), surge planning should allow activation of multiple levels of capacity from the health care facility level to the national level. Plans should be scalable and flexible to cope with the many types and varied time lines of disasters. Incident management systems and cooperative planning processes will facilitate maximal use of available resources. Plans should involve techniques of how to estimate the number of casualties and the severity of the incident, how to increase the facility capacity, how to adapt it, and how to call the adequate staff in the appropriate time. Besides these issues, this chapter reviews the importance of cooperative regional capacity augmentation, off-site patient care, and the role of the government and how it will collaborate with the health care facilities.