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The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerging infectious disease pandemic developed in Lombardy (northern Italy) during the last week of February 2020 with a progressive increase of patients presenting with serious clinical findings. Despite the efforts of the Central Italian Government, regional resources were rapidly at capacity. The solution was to plan the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) of 119 critically ill patients (median age 61 years) to in-patient intensive care units in other Italian regions (77) and Germany (42). Once surviving patients were deemed suitable, the repatriation process concluded the assignment. The aim of this report is to underline the importance of a rapid organization and coordination process between different nodes of an effective national and international network during an emerging infectious disease outbreak and draw lessons learned from similar published reports.
In mass casualty scenarios, patients with apparent hemodynamic and respiratory stability might have occult life-threatening injuries. These patients could benefit from more accurate triage methods. This study assessed the impact of point-of-care ultrasound on the accuracy of secondary triage conducted at an advanced medical post to enhance the detection of patients who, despite their apparent clinically stable condition, could benefit from earlier evacuation to definitive care or immediate life-saving treatment.
A mass casualty simulated event consisting of a bomb blast in a remote area was conducted with 10 simulated casualties classified as YELLOW at the primary triage scene; patients were evaluated by 4 physicians at an advanced medical post. Three patients had, respectively, hemoperitoneum, pneumothorax, and hemothorax. Only 2 physicians had sonographic information.
All 4 physicians were able to suspect hemoperitoneum as a possible critical condition to be managed first, but only physicians with additional sonographic information accurately detected pneumothorax and hemothorax, thus deciding to immediately evacuate or treat.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the Italian National Health System to its knees. The abnormally high influx of patients, together with the limited resources available, has forced clinicians to make unprecedented decisions and provide compassionate treatments for which little or no evidence is yet available. This is the case for the use of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation and continuous airway pressure ventilation, combined with prone position in patients with COVID-19 and acute respiratory distress syndrome treated outside of intensive care units. In our article, we comment on the evidence available, so far, and provide a brief summary of data collected at our health institution in Piedmont, Italy.
Low-resource environments, such as those found in humanitarian crises, pose significant challenges to the provision of proper medical treatment. While the lack of training of health providers to such settings has been well-acknowledged in literature, there has yet to be any scientific evidence for this phenomenon.
This pilot study utilized a randomized crossover experimental design to examine the effects of high- versus low-resource simulated scenarios of a resuscitation of a critically ill obstetric patient on a medical doctors’ performance and inter-personal skills. Ten senior residents (fifth-year post-graduate) of the Maggiore Hospital School of Medicine (Novara, NO, Italy) were included in the study.
Overall performance score for the high-resource setting was 5.2, as opposed to only 2.3 for the low-resource setting. The mean effect size for the overall score was 2.9 (95% CI, 1.7–4.0; P <.001). The results suggest a significant decrease in both technical (medical) and non-technical skills, such as leadership, problem solving, situation awareness, resource utilization, and communication in the low-resource environment setting. The latter finding is of special important since it was yet to be reported.
This pilot study suggests that untrained physicians in low-resource environments may experience a considerable setback not only to their professional performance, but also to their interpersonal skills, when deployed ill-prepared to humanitarian missions. Consequently, this may endanger the health of local populations.
Italy is prone to major earthquakes and has experienced several devastating earthquakes in the far and recent past. The objectives of this study were to assess the level of Italian households’ preparedness for earthquakes and to measure the public’s perception of the risk and its impact on preparedness behavior.
Italian households’ preparedness for earthquakes is insufficient and is influenced by different threat perception components that were assessed.
A cross-sectional study, using an online questionnaire, was conducted in early 2018. The sample included 1,093 responders from a diverse sociodemographic background. The primary outcome was the Preparedness Index (PI), a score indicating the number of preparedness actions complied-with out of 10.
The PI’s mean was 5.26 (SD = 2.17). The recommendation most complied-with was keeping a flashlight at home (87.7%) and the least was securing the kitchen cupboards (15.1%). The PI was positively correlated with a higher sense of preparedness (r = 0.426; P <.001). The PI was higher for responders residing in high-seismic-risk areas and those who experienced a major earthquake before. The predictors of PI were: gender, age, prior experience, sense of preparedness, searching for information, and threat intrusiveness (negatively).
The findings demonstrate a medium-level of preparedness; however, this might be circumstantial. Italians perceive major earthquakes to be unlikely, yet severe if and when they do occur. A validated tool in Italian now exists and can be used in future studies.
Bodas M, Giuliani F, Ripoll-Gallardo A, Caviglia M, Dell’Aringa MF, Linty M, Della Corte F, Ragazzoni L. Threat perception and public preparedness for earthquakes in Italy. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(2):114–124
The current humanitarian crisis in Yemen is unprecedented in many ways. The Yemeni War tragedy is symptomatic of gross failures to recognize, by combatants, existing humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention that have become the new norm in unconventional armed conflicts and are increasingly replicated in Africa, Afghanistan, and other areas of the Middle East with dire consequences on aid workers and the noncombatant population. The health and humanitarian professions must take collective responsibility in calling for all belligerent parties to cease the massacre and commit to guaranteed medical assistance, humanitarian aid, and the free flow of information and respect for the humanitarian principles that protect the neutrality and impartiality of the humanitarian workforce. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;page 1 of 3)
Disaster response demands a large workforce covering diverse professional sectors. Throughout this article, we illustrate the results of a systematic review of peer-reviewed studies to identify existing competency sets for disaster management and humanitarian assistance that would serve as guidance for the development of a common disaster curriculum. A systematic review of English-language articles was performed on PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, ERIC, and Cochrane Library. Studies were included if reporting competency domains, abilities, knowledge, skills, or attitudes for professionals involved disaster relief or humanitarian assistance. Exclusion criteria included abstracts, citations, case studies, and studies not dealing with disasters or humanitarian assistance. Thirty-eight papers were analyzed. Target audience was defined in all articles. Five references (13%) reported cross-sectorial competencies. Most of the articles (81.6%) were specific to health care. Eighteen (47%) papers included competencies for at least 2 different disciplines and 18 (47%) for different professional groups. Nursing was the most widely represented cadre. Eighteen papers (47%) defined competency domains and 36 (94%) reported list of competencies. Nineteen articles (50%) adopted consensus-building to define competencies, and 12 (31%) included competencies adapted to different professional responsibility levels. This systematic review revealed that the largest number of papers were mainly focused on the health care sector and presented a lack of agreement on the terminology used for competency-based definition. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:430–439)
Over the last decades, humanitarian crises have seen a sharp upward trend. Regrettably, physicians involved in humanitarian action have often demonstrated incomplete preparation for these compelling events which have proved to be quite different from their daily work. Responders to these crises have included an unpredictable mix of beginner-level, mid-level, and expert-level providers. The quality of care has varied considerably. The international humanitarian community, in responding to international calls for improved accountability, transparency, coordination, and a registry of professionalized international responders, has recently launched a call for further professionalization within the humanitarian assistance sector, especially among academic-affiliated education and training programs. As anesthetists have been involved traditionally in medical relief operations, and recent disasters have seen a massive engagement of young physicians, the authors conducted, as a first step, a poll among residents in Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine in Italy to evaluate their interest in participating in competency-based humanitarian assistance education and in training incorporated early in residencies.
The Directors of all the 39 accredited anesthesia/critical care training programs in Italy were contacted and asked to submit a questionnaire to their residents regarding the objectives of the poll study. After acceptance to participate, residents were enrolled and asked to complete a web-based poll.
A total of 29 (74%) of the initial training programs participated in the poll. Out of the 1,362 questionnaires mailed to residents, 924 (68%) were fully completed and returned. Only 63(6.8%) of the respondents voiced prior participation in humanitarian missions, but up to 690 (74.7%) stated they were interested in participating in future humanitarian deployments during their residency that carried over into their professional careers. Countrywide, 896 (97%) favored prior preparation for residents before participating in humanitarian missions, while the need for a specific, formal, professionalization process of the entire humanitarian aid sector was supported by 889 (96.2%).
In Italy, the majority of anesthesia/critical care residents, through a formal poll study, affirmed interest in participating in humanitarian assistance missions and believe that further professionalization within the humanitarian aid sector is required. These results have implications for residency training programs worldwide.
Ripoll GallardoA, IngrassiaPL, RagazzoniL, DjalaliA, CarenzoL, BurkleFMJr, Della CorteF. Professionalization of Anesthesiologists and Critical Care Specialists in Humanitarian Action: A Nationwide Poll Among Italian Residents. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(1):1-6.
Unacceptable practices in the delivery of international medical assistance are reported after every major international disaster; this raises concerns about the clinical competence and practice of some foreign medical teams (FMTs). The aim of this study is to explore and analyze the opinions of disaster management experts about potential deficiencies in the art and science of national and FMTs during disasters and the impact these opinions might have on competency-based education and training.
This qualitative study was performed in 2013. A questionnaire-based evaluation of experts’ opinions and experiences in responding to disasters was conducted. The selection of the experts was done using the purposeful sampling method, and the sample size was considered by data saturation. Content analysis was used to explore the implications of the data.
This study shows that there is a lack of competency-based training for disaster responders. Developing and performing standardized training courses is influenced by shortcomings in budget, expertise, and standards. There is a lack of both coordination and integration among teams and their activities during disasters. The participants of this study emphasized problems concerning access to relevant resources during disasters.
The major findings of this study suggest that teams often are not competent during the response phase because of education and training deficiencies. Foreign medical teams and medically related nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) do not always provide expected capabilities and services. Failures in leadership and in coordination among teams are also a problem. All deficiencies need to be applied to competency-based curricula.
DjalaliA, IngrassiaPL, Della CorteF, FolettiM, Ripoll GallardoA, RagazzoniL, KaptanK, LupescuO, ArculeoC, von ArnimG, FriedlT, AshkenaziM, HeselmannD, HreckovskiB, Khorrram-ManeshA, KomadinaR, LechnerK, PatruC, BurkleFMJr., FisherP. Identifying Deficiencies in National and Foreign Medical Team Responses Through Expert Opinion Surveys: Implications for Education and Training. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(4):1-5.
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