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Fibre-optic nasoendoscopy and fibre-optic laryngoscopy are high-risk procedures in the coronavirus disease 2019 era, as they are potential aerosol-generating procedures. Barrier protection remains key to preventing transmission.
A device was developed that patients can wear to reduce potential aerosol contamination of the surroundings.
This device is simple, reproducible, easy to use, economical and well-tolerated. Full personal protection equipment should additionally be worn by the operator.
To report our experience of diagnosis, investigation and management in patients who had undergone laryngectomy secondary to previous squamous cell carcinoma, who were subsequently infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Four post-laryngectomy patients with laboratory-proven severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection were admitted to our institution from 1 March to 1 May 2020. All patients displayed symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 and underwent investigations, including swab and serum sampling, and chest X-ray where indicated. All were managed conservatively on dedicated coronavirus disease 2019 wards and were discharged without the requirement of higher level care.
It is hypothesised that laryngectomy may offer a protective effect against severe or critical disease in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 infection. We hope sharing our experience will aid all practitioners in the management of this, often intimidating, cohort of patients.
Introduction: Selecting appropriate patients for hospitalization following emergency department (ED) evaluation of syncope is critical for serious adverse event (SAE) identification. The primary objective of this study is to determine the association of hospitalization and SAE detection using propensity score (PS) matching. The secondary objective was to determine if SAE identification with hospitalization varied by the Canadian Syncope Risk Score (CSRS) risk-category. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of two large prospective cohort studies that enrolled adults (age ≥ 16 years) with syncope at 11 Canadian EDs. Patients with a serious condition identified during index ED evaluation were excluded. Outcome was a 30-day SAE identified either in-hospital for hospitalized patients or after ED disposition for discharged patients and included death, ventricular arrhythmia, non-lethal arrhythmia and non-arrhythmic SAE (myocardial infarction, structural heart disease, pulmonary embolism, hemorrhage). Patients were propensity matched using age, sex, blood pressure, prodrome, presumed ED diagnosis, ECG abnormalities, troponin, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arrival by ambulance and hospital site. Multivariable logistic regression assessed the interaction between CSRS and SAE detection and we report odds ratios (OR). Results: Of the 8183 patients enrolled, 743 (9.0%) patients were hospitalized and 658 (88.6%) were PS matched. The OR for SAE detection for hospitalized patients in comparison to those discharged from the ED was 5.0 (95%CI 3.3, 7.4), non-lethal arrhythmia 5.4 (95%CI 3.1, 9.6) and non-arrhythmic SAE 6.3 (95%CI 2.9, 13.5). Overall, the odds of any SAE identification, and specifically non-lethal arrhythmia and non-arrhythmia was significantly higher in-hospital among hospitalized patients than those discharged from the ED (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in 30-day mortality (p = 1.00) or ventricular arrhythmia detection (p = 0.21). The interaction between ED disposition and CSRS was significant (p = 0.04) and the probability of 30-day SAEs while in-hospital was greater for medium and high risk CSRS patients. Conclusion: In this multicenter prospective cohort, 30-day SAE detection was greater for hospitalized compared with discharged patients. CSRS low-risk patients are least likely to have SAEs identified in-hospital; out-patient monitoring for moderate risk patients requires further study.
Introduction: Adoption of a new Electronic Health Record (EHR) can introduce radical changes in task allocation, work processes, and efficiency for providers. In June 2019, The Ottawa Hospital transitioned from a primarily paper based EHR to a comprehensive EHR (Epic) using a “big bang” approach. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of the transition to Epic on Emergency Physician (EP) work activities in a tertiary care academic Emergency Department (ED). Methods: We conducted a time motion study of EPs on shift in low acuity areas of our ED (CTAS 3-5). Fifteen EPs representing a spectrum of pre-Epic baseline workflow efficiencies were directly observed in real-time during two 4-hour sessions prior to EHR implementation (May 2019) and again in go live (August 2019). Trained observers performed continuous observation and measured times for the following EP tasks: chart review, direct patient care, documentation, physical movement, communication, teaching, handover, and other (including breaks). We compared time spent on tasks pre Epic and during go live and report mean times for the EP tasks per patient and per shift using two tailed t-test for comparison. Results: All physicians had a 17% decrease in patients seen after Epic implementation (2.72/hr vs 2.24/hr, p < 0.01). EPs spent the same amount of time per patient on direct patient care and chart review (direct patient care: 9min06sec/pt pre vs 8min56sec/pt go live, p = 0.77; chart review: 2min47sec/pt pre vs 2min50sec/pt go live, p = 0.88), however, documentation time increased (5min28sec/pt pre vs 7min12sec/pt go live, p < 0.01). Time spent on shift teaching learners increased but did not reach statistical significance (31min26sec/shift pre vs 36min21sec/shift go live, p = 0.39), and time spent on non-patient-specific activities – physical movement, handover, team communication, and other – did not change (50min49sec/shift pre vs 50min53sec/shift go live, p = 0.99). Conclusion: Implementation of Epic did not affect EP time with individual patients - there was no change in direct patient care or chart review. Documentation time increased and EP efficiency (patients seen per hr on shift) decreased after go live. Patient volumes cannot be adjusted in the ED therefore anticipating the EHR impact on EP workflow is critical for successful implementation. EDs may consider up staffing 20% during go live. Findings from this study can inform how to best support EDs nationally through transition to EHR.
We conducted a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCT) of increased intake of arachidonic acid (ARA) on fatty acid status and health outcomes in humans. We identified twenty-two articles from fourteen RCT. Most studies were conducted in adults. These used between 80 and 2000 mg ARA per d and were of 1–12 weeks duration. Supplementation with ARA doses as low as 80 mg/d increased the content of ARA in different blood fractions. Overall there seem to be few marked benefits for adults of increasing ARA intake from the typical usual intake of 100–200 mg/d to as much as 1000 mg/d; the few studies using higher doses (1500 or 2000 mg/d) also report little benefit. However, there may be an impact of ARA on cognitive and muscle function which could be particularly relevant in the ageing population. The studies reviewed here suggest no adverse effects in adults of increased ARA intake up to at least 1000–1500 mg/d on blood lipids, platelet aggregation and blood clotting, immune function, inflammation or urinary excretion of ARA metabolites. However, in many areas there are insufficient studies to make firm conclusions, and higher intakes of ARA are deserving of further study. Based on the RCT reviewed, there are not enough data to make any recommendations for specific health effects of ARA intake.
n-3 Fatty acids are associated with better cardiovascular and cognitive health. However, the concentration of EPA, DPA and DHA in different plasma lipid pools differs and factors influencing this heterogeneity are poorly understood. Our aim was to evaluate the association of oily fish intake, sex, age, BMI and APOE genotype with concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA in plasma phosphatidylcholine (PC), NEFA, cholesteryl esters (CE) and TAG. Healthy adults (148 male, 158 female, age 20–71 years) were recruited according to APOE genotype, sex and age. The fatty acid composition was determined by GC. Oily fish intake was positively associated with EPA in PC, CE and TAG, DPA in TAG, and DHA in all fractions (P≤0·008). There was a positive association between age and EPA in PC, CE and TAG, DPA in NEFA and CE, and DHA in PC and CE (P≤0·034). DPA was higher in TAG in males than females (P<0·001). There was a positive association between BMI and DPA and DHA in TAG (P<0·006 and 0·02, respectively). APOE genotype×sex interactions were observed: the APOE4 allele associated with higher EPA in males (P=0·002), and there was also evidence for higher DPA and DHA (P≤0·032). In conclusion, EPA, DPA and DHA in plasma lipids are associated with oily fish intake, sex, age, BMI and APOE genotype. Such insights may be used to better understand the link between plasma fatty acid profiles and dietary exposure and may influence intake recommendations across population subgroups.
Introduction: Acute heart failure (AHF) is a common, serious condition that frequently results in morbidity and death and is a leading cause for hospital admissions. There is little evidence to guide ED physician disposition decisions for AHF patients. We sought to create a risk-stratification tool for use by ED physicians to determine which AHF patients are at high risk for poor outcomes. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study in 9 tertiary hospital EDs and enrolled adult patients presenting with shortness of breath due to AHF. Patients were assessed for standardized clinical and laboratory variables and then followed to determine short-term serious outcome (SSO), defined as death, intubation, myocardial infarction, or relapse requiring admission within 14 days. We identified predictors of SSO by stepwise logistic regression and then rounded beta coefficients to create a risk scale. Results: We enrolled 1,733 patients with mean age 77.1 years, male 54.5%, and initially admitted 50.1%. SSOs occurred in 202 (11.7%) cases (14.0% in those admitted and 9.3% in those discharged from the ED). We created the CHFRS consisting of:1. Initial Assessment a) History of valvular heart disease b) On anti-arrhythmic c) Arrival heart rate ≥ 110d) Treated with non-invasive ventilation2. Investigations a) Urea >12 mmol/L or Cr>150 µmol/L b) Serum CO2>35 mmol/L or pCO2 >60 mmHg (VBG or ABG) c) Troponin >5x Upper Reference Level 3. Fails reassessment after ED treatment:(i) Resting vital signs abnormal, (SaO2 <90% on room air or usual O2, or HR >110, or RR >28); OR(ii) Unable to complete 3-minute walk test. The risk of SSO varied from 5.0% for a score of 0, to 77.4% for a score of 9. Discrimination between SSO and no SSO cases was good with an area under the ROC curve of 0.70 (95% CI 0.66-0.74). There was good calibration between the observed and expected probability of SSO and internal validation showed the risk scores to be very accurate across 1,000 replications using the bootstrap method. Conclusion: We have created the CHFRS tool which consists of 8 simple variables and which estimates the short-term risk of SSOs in AHF patients. CHFRS should help improve and standardize admission practices, diminishing both unnecessary admissions for low-risk patients and unsafe discharge decisions for high-risk patients. This will ultimately lead to better safety for patients and more efficient use of hospital resources.
Introduction: Highly frequent users (HFU) of the emergency department (ED) remain a poorly defined and complex population. This study describes patient and visit characteristics for HFU of the ED, and analyzes subgroups of patients with mental illness, substance abuse, and/or ≥30 yearly ED visits. Methods: We performed a health records review of 250 randomly selected adults with >99th percentile of ED visit frequency (≥7 visits) at a tertiary care academic hospital with two EDs in 2014. Two reviewers collected demographic variables (age, sex, and comorbidities) and visit data (ED diagnosis, ED length of stay (LOS), ED presentation time (daytime 0800-1559 h, evening 1600-2359 h, overnight 2400-0759 h), consultation services, and final disposition). Data were analyzed using descriptive and univariate analyses, student t and Mann Whitney U tests. Results: Of 897 eligible patients who experienced 9,376 ED visits we included 250 patients (2,670 visits) in our main analyses, and an additional 11 patients (494 visits) outside of the random selection with ≥30 ED visits. Mean age was 53.4±1.3 (SEM), and 55.6% were female. Most patients had a fixed address (88.9%), and a family physician (87.2%). Top comorbidities included gastrointestinal (61.6%), cardiovascular (52%), and chronic pain issues (47.2%). Top ED diagnoses included musculoskeletal pain (9.6%), abdominal pain (8.4%) and alcohol-related presentations (8.5%). Hospital admission was required for 15.6% of visits. From all possible visits (3164 visits), consultations for social workers, geriatric emergency medicine nurses, or Community Care Access Centres were made for 5.9% of visits, with 47.3% of these patients presenting during daytime hours. Among visits requiring these consultations, median ED LOS was greatest in the evening (12.7 hours, range 1.4-45.2 hours), compared to daytime (5.4, 1.2-33.6; p=0.0002) or overnight (7.9, 1.0-38.3, p=0.02). Inter-rater review of 4.5% of abstracted health records revealed a kappa score of 0.8. Conclusion: This study highlights that a remarkably low proportion of HFUs received allied health consultations at the study sites, likely corresponding to a lack of available consultants outside of daytime work hours. Our findings suggest the need to address significant gaps in order to balance the clinical needs of patients who frequent the ED with currently available resources.
Following release by emergency department (ED) for acute heart failure (AHF), returns to ED represent important adverse health outcomes. The objective of this study was to document relapse events and factors associated with return to ED in the 14-day period following release by ED for patients with AHF.
The primary outcome was the number of return to ED for patients who were release by ED after the initial visit, for any related medical problem within 14 days of this initial ED visit.
Return visits to the EDs occurred in 166 (20%) patients. Of all patients who returned to ED within the 14-day period, 77 (47%) were secondarily admitted to the hospital. The following factors were associated with return visits to ED: past medical history of percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass graft (aOR=1.51; 95% CIs [1.01-2.24]), current use of antiarrhythmics medications (1.96 [1.05-3.55]), heart rate above 80 /min (1.89 [1.28-2.80]), systolic blood pressure below 140 mm Hg (1.67[1.14-2.47]), oxygen saturation (SaO2) above 96% (1.58 [1.08-2.31]), troponin above the upper reference limit of normal (1.68 [1.15-2.45]), and chest X-ray with pleural effusion (1.52 [1.04-2.23]).
Many heart failure patients (i.e. 1 in 5 patients) are released from the ED and then suffer return to ED. Patients with multiple medical comorbidities, and those with abnormal initial vital signs are at increased risk for return to ED and should be identified.
Rapid climatic and socio-economic changes challenge current agricultural R&D capacity. The necessary quantum leap in knowledge generation should build on the innovation capacity of farmers themselves. A novel citizen science methodology, triadic comparisons of technologies or tricot, was implemented in pilot studies in India, East Africa, and Central America. The methodology involves distributing a pool of agricultural technologies in different combinations of three to individual farmers who observe these technologies under farm conditions and compare their performance. Since the combinations of three technologies overlap, statistical methods can piece together the overall performance ranking of the complete pool of technologies. The tricot approach affords wide scaling, as the distribution of trial packages and instruction sessions is relatively easy to execute, farmers do not need to be organized in collaborative groups, and feedback is easy to collect, even by phone. The tricot approach provides interpretable, meaningful results and was widely accepted by farmers. The methodology underwent improvement in data input formats. A number of methodological issues remain: integrating environmental analysis, capturing gender-specific differences, stimulating farmers' motivation, and supporting implementation with an integrated digital platform. Future studies should apply the tricot approach to a wider range of technologies, quantify its potential contribution to climate adaptation, and embed the approach in appropriate institutions and business models, empowering participants and democratizing science.
Introduction: Many emergency departments (EDs) have begun publishing wait times. This study seeks to develop an understanding of patients’ needs with respect to publishing ED wait times, which, to our knowledge, has not been described in the literature. Methods: We conducted a two-stage mixed methods study at a dual campus tertiary care academic center. First, we held focus group discussions comprising of 7 patient advocacy hospital committee members. Themes generated from focus group discussions were then utilized to create a patient survey. Focus groups were analyzed using content theme analysis. Hospital sites for survey administration were randomized and pre-assigned shifts were established to ensure a balance of weekdays, weekends, days, evenings, and overnights. All adult patients (age >18) in the waiting room were eligible, but excluded if they were directly referred to a specialty service or did not speak French or English. Survey data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: We found 9 dominant focus group themes: definition of wait time, wait time posting, lack of communication, education in waiting room, patient expectations, utilization of the ED, patient behavior, physical comfort, and patient empowerment. Of the 240 patient questionnaires administered, 81.3% (195) wanted to know ED wait times before arrival to hospital and 90.8% (217) wanted ED wait times posted in the ED waiting room. The most popular choice for publishing wait times outside the ED was a website (46.7%) whereas, within the ED, patients were not particular about the specific display modality as long as times were displayed (39.6%). Overall, 76.7% (184) stated their satisfaction with the ED would be improved if wait times were posted. Conclusion: ED patients we surveyed strongly supported both the idea of having access to wait time information prior to arrival, as well as physical display of wait times in the waiting room.
We conducted a program of research to derive and test the reliability of a clinical prediction rule to identify high-risk older adults using paramedics’ observations.
We developed the Paramedics assessing Elders at Risk of Independence Loss (PERIL) checklist of 43 yes or no questions, including the Identifying Seniors at Risk (ISAR) tool items. We trained 1,185 paramedics from three Ontario services to use this checklist, and assessed inter-observer reliability in a convenience sample. The primary outcome, return to the ED, hospitalization, or death within one month was assessed using provincial databases. We derived a prediction rule using multivariable logistic regression.
We enrolled 1,065 subjects, of which 764 (71.7%) had complete data. Inter-observer reliability was good or excellent for 40/43 questions. We derived a four-item rule: 1) “Problems in the home contributing to adverse outcomes?” (OR 1.43); 2) “Called 911 in the last 30 days?” (OR 1.72); 3) male (OR 1.38) and 4) lacks social support (OR 1.4). The PERIL rule performed better than a proxy measure of clinical judgment (AUC 0.62 vs. 0.56, p=0.02) and adherence was better for PERIL than for ISAR.
The four-item PERIL rule has good inter-observer reliability and adherence, and had advantages compared to a proxy measure of clinical judgment. The ISAR is an acceptable alternative, but adherence may be lower. If future research validates the PERIL rule, it could be used by emergency physicians and paramedic services to target preventative interventions for seniors identified as high-risk.
Demand for organic milk is partially driven by consumer perceptions that it is more nutritious. However, there is still considerable uncertainty over whether the use of organic production standards affects milk quality. Here we report results of meta-analyses based on 170 published studies comparing the nutrient content of organic and conventional bovine milk. There were no significant differences in total SFA and MUFA concentrations between organic and conventional milk. However, concentrations of total PUFA and n-3 PUFA were significantly higher in organic milk, by an estimated 7 (95 % CI −1, 15) % and 56 (95 % CI 38, 74) %, respectively. Concentrations of α-linolenic acid (ALA), very long-chain n-3 fatty acids (EPA+DPA+DHA) and conjugated linoleic acid were also significantly higher in organic milk, by an 69 (95 % CI 53, 84) %, 57 (95 % CI 27, 87) % and 41 (95 % CI 14, 68) %, respectively. As there were no significant differences in total n-6 PUFA and linoleic acid (LA) concentrations, the n-6:n-3 and LA:ALA ratios were lower in organic milk, by an estimated 71 (95 % CI −122, −20) % and 93 (95 % CI −116, −70) %. It is concluded that organic bovine milk has a more desirable fatty acid composition than conventional milk. Meta-analyses also showed that organic milk has significantly higher α-tocopherol and Fe, but lower I and Se concentrations. Redundancy analysis of data from a large cross-European milk quality survey indicates that the higher grazing/conserved forage intakes in organic systems were the main reason for milk composition differences.
Two major processes underlie human decision-making: experiential (intuitive) and rational (conscious) thinking. The predominant thinking process used by working paramedics and student paramedics to make clinical decisions is unknown.
A survey was administered to ground ambulance paramedics and to primary care paramedic students. The survey included demographic questions and the Rational Experiential Inventory-40, a validated psychometric tool involving 40 questions. Twenty questions evaluated each thinking style: 10 assessed preference and 10 assessed ability to use that style. Responses were provided on a five-point Likert scale, with higher scores indicating higher affinity for the style in question. Analysis included both descriptive statistics and t tests to evaluate differences in thinking style.
The response rate was 88.4% (1172/1326). Paramedics (n=904) had a median age of 36 years (IQR 29–42) and most were male (69.5%) and primary or advanced care paramedics (PCP=55.5%; ACP=32.5%). Paramedic students (n=268) had a median age of 23 years (IQR 21–26), most were male (63.1%) and had completed high school (31.7%) or an undergraduate degree (25.4%) prior to paramedic training. Both groups scored their ability to use and favourability toward rational thinking significantly higher than experiential thinking. The mean score for rational thinking was 3.86/5 among paramedics and 3.97/5 among paramedic students (p<0.001). The mean score for experiential thinking was 3.41/5 among paramedics and 3.35/5 among paramedic students (p=0.06).
Working paramedics and student paramedics prefer and perceive that they have the ability to use rational over experiential thinking. This information adds to our current knowledge on paramedic decision-making and is potentially important for developing continuing education and clinical support tools.
The recognition of ‘fetal origins of adult disease’ has placed new responsibilities on the obstetrician, as antenatal care is no longer simply about ensuring good perinatal outcomes, but also needs to plan for optimal long-term health for mother and baby. Recently, it has become clear that the intrauterine environment has a broad and long-lasting impact, influencing fetal and childhood growth and development as well as future cardiovascular health, non-communicable disease risk and fertility. This article looks specifically at the importance of the developmental origins of ovarian reserve and ageing, the role of the placenta and maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy. It also reviews recent insights in developmental medicine of relevance to the obstetrician, and outlines emerging evidence supporting a proactive clinical approach to optimizing periconceptional as well as antenatal care aimed to protect newborns against long-term disease susceptibility.
To characterize the current state of Canadian emergency medicine (EM) resident research and develop recommendations to promote excellence in this area.
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, and ERIC using search terms relevant to EM resident research. We conducted an online survey of EM residency program directors from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). An expert panel reviewed these data, presented recommendations at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians 2014 Academic Symposium, and refined them based on feedback received.
Of 654 potentially relevant citations, 35 articles were included. These were categorized into four themes: 1) expectations and requirements, 2) training and assessment, 3) infrastructure and support, and 4) dissemination. We received 31 responses from all 31 RCPSC-EM and CFPC-EM programs. The majority of EM programs reported requiring a resident scholarly project; however, we found wide-ranging expectations for the type of resident research performed and how results were disseminated, as well as the degree of completion expected. Although 93% of RCPSC-EM programs reported providing formal training on how to conduct research, only 53% of CFPC-EM programs reported doing so. Almost all programs (94%) reported having infrastructure in place to support resident research, but the nature of support was highly variable. Finally, there was marked variability regarding the number of resident-published abstracts and manuscripts.
Based on the literature, our national survey, and discussions with stakeholders, we offer 14 recommendations encompassing goals, expectations, training, assessment, infrastructure, and dissemination in order to improve Canadian EM resident research.
The importance of chronic low-grade inflammation in the pathology of numerous age-related chronic conditions is now clear. An unresolved inflammatory response is likely to be involved from the early stages of disease development. The present position paper is the most recent in a series produced by the International Life Sciences Institute's European Branch (ILSI Europe). It is co-authored by the speakers from a 2013 workshop led by the Obesity and Diabetes Task Force entitled ‘Low-grade inflammation, a high-grade challenge: biomarkers and modulation by dietary strategies’. The latest research in the areas of acute and chronic inflammation and cardiometabolic, gut and cognitive health is presented along with the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying inflammation–health/disease associations. The evidence relating diet composition and early-life nutrition to inflammatory status is reviewed. Human epidemiological and intervention data are thus far heavily reliant on the measurement of inflammatory markers in the circulation, and in particular cytokines in the fasting state, which are recognised as an insensitive and highly variable index of tissue inflammation. Potential novel kinetic and integrated approaches to capture inflammatory status in humans are discussed. Such approaches are likely to provide a more discriminating means of quantifying inflammation–health/disease associations, and the ability of diet to positively modulate inflammation and provide the much needed evidence to develop research portfolios that will inform new product development and associated health claims.
An estimated 800 million people live within 100 km of an active volcano in 86 countries and additional overseas territories worldwide [see Chapter 4 and Appendix B]1. Volcanoes are compelling evidence that the Earth is a dynamic planet characterised by endless change and renewal. Humans have always found volcanic activity fascinating and have often chosen to live close to volcanoes, which commonly provide favourable environments for life. Volcanoes bring many benefits to society: eruptions fertilise soils; elevated topography provides good sites for infrastructure (e.g. telecommunications on elevated ground); water resources are commonly plentiful; volcano tourism can be lucrative; and volcanoes can acquire spiritual, aesthetic or religious significance. Some volcanoes are also associated with geothermal resources, making them a target for exploration and a potential energy resource.
Much of the time volcanoes are not a threat because they erupt very infrequently or because communities have become resilient to frequently erupting volcanoes. However, there is an everpresent danger of a long-dormant volcano re-awakening or of volcanoes producing anomalously large or unexpected eruptions. Volcanic eruptions can cause loss of life and livelihoods in exposed communities, damage or disrupt critical infrastructure and add stress to already fragile environments. Their impacts can be both short-term, e.g. physical damage, and long-term, e.g. sustained or permanent displacement of populations. The risk from volcanic eruptions and their attendant hazards is often underestimated beyond areas within the immediate proximity of a volcano. For example, volcanic ash hazards can have effects hundreds of kilometres away from the vent and have an adverse impact on human and animal health, infrastructure, transport, agriculture and horticulture, the environment and economies. The products of volcanism and their impacts can extend beyond country borders, to be regional and even global in scale.
Although known historical loss of life from volcanic eruptions (since 1600 AD about 280,000 fatalities are recorded, Auker et al. (2013)) is modest compared to other major natural hazards, volcanic eruptions can be catastrophic for exposed communities. In 1985 the town of Armero in Colombia was buried by lahars (volcanic mudflows) with more than 21,000 fatalities due to relatively small explosive eruptions at the summit of Nevado del Ruiz volcano that partially melted a glacier (Voight, 1990).