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An effective response to CBRNE requires that frontline staff, such as nurses, are adequately trained in Emergency Preparedness (EP). Understanding the current gaps in nursing knowledge of CBRNE is the first step in creating an effective training program. This study assessed EP training gaps and needs among nursing staff.
A web-based survey was distributed to all hospital nursing staff. The survey evaluated the CBRNE training that nurses received. Staff listed the types of training they had received and were asked to rate their confidence in performing various disaster-related competencies or capabilities. Competency confidence levels were also surveyed as those who feel; not at all confident or not very confident.
The survey assessed previous EP training. 572/763 Nursing Staff had completed the survey, for a response rate of 75%. Of the nurses who responded, areas in which they have been trained included: preparedness for radiological and nuclear agents (17.66% trained), preparedness for biological agents (22.20% trained), preparedness for chemical agents (27.45% trained), hazardous materials and patient decontamination (25% trained), and their own role within the hospital's ICS (31.29% trained), Patient evacuation (63.61% trained) and the hospital's EP plan (54.55% trained). The survey also assessed respondents' confidence in performing EP activities. The respondents reported lacking confidence in treating patients exposed to a radioactive material (59.9%), treating patients exposed to a biological agent (57.17%), and performing decontamination procedures (54.71%). The respondents reported having confidence in evacuating patients from units, departments, or hospitals (69.1%). The top incentives for participating in “nonrequired” training were no costs to complete the training (83.1%) and receiving continuing education credits (79.2%).
A majority of nurses reported inadequate training in CBRNE events with a self-reported lack of confidence in responding to these events. A targeted and educational CBRNE curriculum and materials to enhance EP among nursing professionals are clearly indicated.
Public health agencies’ ability to monitor outbreaks requires government mandated reporting from healthcare institutions, with consequences for noncompliance. This study aims to characterize the burden on acute care hospitals from government reporting requirements during COVID-19 pandemic.
A retrospective study over a 14-month period (April 27th, 2020 to June 10th, 2021) during the COVID-19 pandemic examining the log of changes and requirements of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Teletracking, an online system for hospital reporting. We interviewed 33 individuals including hospital leadership, clinical directors, and infection control personnel in a New York City (NYC) small independent hospital (SIH).
During the study period, reporting requirements increased from five daily reports to 29 daily reports across eleven different agencies, all with separate reporting systems. Reporting schedules varied from several times a day to intermittently. Typically, new reporting requirements were conveyed to institutional contacts at 8 AM with a required deadline of 1 PM the same day. The continuous changes reportedly made it difficult to develop stable data gathering and workflow processes. There was a reported lack of clarity around new data elements’ definitions and different agencies employed different variables for the same measure. There were hospital penalties for missing deadlines, leading to clinical staff being diverted from patient care to meet reporting needs.
The study shows significant reporting barriers and diversion of resources away from the frontline to supply data collection during disasters. There is significant redundancy in reporting agencies and in reporting systems, each with different reporting frequencies, and variable definitions of data elements. The public health needs of a disaster response would be better served with a more coordinated, efficient system to share information without further straining the healthcare system.
A widely acknowledged aspect of emergency preparedness is hospital-wide staff education. Maintaining interest in hospital emergency preparedness among hospital staff is challenging. A hospital-wide education process involving a robust lecture and hands on donning and doffing sessions followed by periodic disaster drills has been recently undertaken as a quality improvement process.
A prospective pre- and post-test study of 256 hospital staff were given a six-hour training course in comprehensive Hospital Incident Command Systems (HICS), Hazmat (Hazardous Materials), and CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiation, Nuclear, and Explosive) events. The same pre and post-test were given to all participants that contained questions to assess emergency preparedness knowledge.
256 registrars within seven months (two classes per month) completed training with pre and post-tests. The average class size was 18.3 (range= 14 to 26 registrars). 3 of 256 (1.1 % 95% confidence interval) registrars achieved the pass mark of 70% in the pre-test survey and 230 (89.8 %) registrars achieved the pass mark in the post-test (χ2-test P < 0.001) with an absolute increase in the pass rate of 84%.
This finding justifies Emergency Preparedness Training at our institution, showing a marked improvement in staff knowledge of HICS and CBRNE management. This study should encourage continuous widespread use of Emergency Preparedness training in hospital Emergency Preparedness.
Management of outbreaks rely on hospitals’ health information technology (IT) to electronically share data to public health systems. Studies show that half of non-federal hospitals reported a lack of capacity to exchange information with public health agencies, placing a variable burden on institutions to meet the government mandated reporting requirements. This study aims to contrast the impact of COVID-19 reporting requirements across two New York City institutions with disparate health IT capabilities.
A retrospective, qualitative study contrasting the impact of reporting requirements on a small independent hospital (SIH) with 198 staffed beds and a large, networked hospital (LNH) with eleven campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers conducted 51 interviews with hospital leadership, clinical directors, and infection control personnel. Interviews were transcribed and coded using qualitative analysis software.
The LNH had a 50-person analytic team that handled reporting tasks, a centralized data warehouse that was automatically updated, electronically generated reports with universal access, and limited burden of clinical staff. The SIH had no dedicated analytic team. Seventeen departments were utilized to handle reporting tasks with no centralized place to share electronic data, limited capacity to create automatically updated reports, a daily manual information gathering processes, and significant need of clinical staff to collect data. Both SIH and LNH faced challenges associated with the distribution of responsibilities and resources with pressure to report in a timely fashion. However, the burden on the SIH was so onerous that it significantly impeded routine hospital work and patient care.
The disparity in health IT capabilities highlights significant institutional inequities and variability in response during a pandemic. The findings have implications for how government and other regulatory bodies may adjust policies to equitably meet public health needs and not unfairly burden small hospitals.
The aim of this study was to implement pediatric vertical evacuation disaster training and evaluate its effectiveness by using a full-scale exercise to compare outcomes in trained and untrained participants.
Various clinical and nonclinical staff in a tertiary care university hospital received pediatric vertical evacuation training sessions over a 6-wk period. The training consisted of disaster and evacuation didactics, hands-on training in use of evacuation equipment, and implementation of an evacuation toolkit. An unannounced full-scale simulated vertical evacuation of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) patients was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. Drill participants completed a validated evaluation tool. Pearson chi-squared testing was used to analyze the data.
Eighty-four evaluations were received from drill participants. Forty-three (51%) of the drill participants received training and 41 (49%) did not. Staff who received pediatric evacuation training were more likely to feel prepared compared with staff who did not (odds ratio, 4.05; confidence interval: 1.05-15.62).
There was a statistically significant increase in perceived preparedness among those who received training. Recently trained pediatric practitioners were able to achieve exercise objectives on par with the regularly trained emergency department staff. Pediatric disaster preparedness training may mitigate the risks associated with caring for children during disasters.
Hazardous material (HAZMAT) protocols require health care providers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for contaminated patients. Multiple levels of PPE exist (level D - level A), providing progressively more protection. Emergent endotracheal intubation (ETI) of victims can become complicated by the cumbersome nature of PPE.
The null hypothesis was tested that there would be no difference in time to successful ETI between providers in different types of PPE.
This randomized controlled trial assessed time to ETI with differing levels of PPE. Participants included 18 senior US Emergency Medicine (EM) residents and attendings, and nine US senior Anesthesiology residents. Each individual performed ETI on a mannequin (Laerdal SimMan Essential; Stavanger, Sweden) wearing the following levels of PPE: universal precautions (UP) controls (nitrile gloves and facemask with shield); partial level C (PC; rubber gloves and a passive air-purifying respirator [APR]); and complete level C (CC; passive APR with an anti-chemical suit). Primary outcome measures were the time in seconds (s) to successful intubation: Time 1 (T1) = inflation of the endotracheal tube (ETT) balloon; Time 2 (T2) = first ventilation. Data were reported as medians with Interquartile Ranges (IQR, 25%-75%) or percentages with 95% Confidence Intervals (95%, CI). Group comparisons were analyzed by Fisher’s Exact Test or Kruskal-Wallis, as appropriate (alpha = 0.017 [three groups], two-tails). Sample size analysis was based upon the power of 80% to detect a difference of 10 seconds between groups at a P = .017; 27 subjects per group would be needed.
All 27 participants completed the study. At T1, there was no statistically significant difference (P = .27) among UP 18.0s (11.5s-19.0s), PC 21.0s (14.0s-23.5s), or CC 17.0s (13.5s-27.5s). For T2, there was also no significant (P = .25) differences among UP 24.0s (17.5s-27.0s), PC 26.0s (21.0s-32.0s), or CC 24.0s (19.5s-33.5s).
There were no statistically significant differences in time to balloon inflation or ventilation. Higher levels of PPE do not appear to increase time to ETI.
Physicians’ management of hazardous material (HAZMAT) incidents requires personal protective equipment (PPE) utilization to ensure the safety of victims, facilities, and providers; therefore, providing effective and accessible training in its use is crucial. While an emphasis has been placed on the importance of PPE, there is debate about the most effective training methods. Circumstances may not allow for a traditional in-person demonstration; an accessible video training may provide a useful alternative.
Video training of Emergency Medicine (EM) residents in the donning and doffing of Level C PPE is more effective than in-person training.
Video training of EM residents in the donning and doffing of Level C PPE is equally effective compared with in-person training.
A randomized, controlled pilot trial was performed with 20 EM residents as part of their annual Emergency Preparedness training. Residents were divided into four groups, with Group 1 and Group 2 viewing a demonstration video developed by the Emergency Preparedness Team (EPT) and Group 3 and Group 4 receiving the standard in-person demonstration training by an EPT member. The groups then separately performed a donning and doffing simulation while blinded evaluators assessed critical tasks utilizing a prepared evaluation tool. At the drill’s conclusion, all participants also completed a self-evaluation survey about their subjective interpretations of their respective trainings.
Both video and in-person training modalities showed significant overall improvement in participants’ confidence in doffing and donning PPE equipment (P <.05). However, no statistically significant difference was found in the number of failed critical tasks in donning or doffing between the training modalities (P >.05). Based on these results, the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. However, these results were limited by the small sample size and the study was not sufficiently powered to show a difference between training modalities.
In this pilot study, video and in-person training were equally effective in training for donning and doffing Level C PPE, with similar error rates in both modalities. Further research into this subject with an appropriately powered study is warranted to determine whether this equivalence persists using a larger sample size.
This team created a manual to train clinics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to effectively respond to disasters. This study is a follow-up to a prior study evaluating disaster response. The team returned to previously trained clinics to evaluate retention and performance in a disaster simulation.
Local clinics are the first stop for patients when disaster strikes LMICs. They are often under-resourced and under-prepared to respond to patient needs. Further effort is required to prepare these crucial institutions to respond effectively using the Incident Command System (ICS) framework.
Two clinics in the North East Region of Haiti were trained through a disaster manual created to help clinics in LMICs respond effectively to disasters. This study measured the clinic staff’s response to a disaster drill using the ICS and compared the results to prior responses.
Using the prior study’s evaluation scale, clinics were evaluated on their ability to set up an ICS. During the mock disaster, staff was evaluated on a three-point scale in 13 different metrics, grading their ability to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover in a disaster. By this scale, both clinics were effective (36/39; 92%) in responding to a disaster.
The clinics retained much prior training, and after repeat training, the clinics improved their disaster response. Future study will evaluate the clinics’ ability to integrate disaster response with country-wide health resources to enable an effective outcome for patients.
In New York City, a multi-disciplinary Mass Casualty Consultation team is proposed to support prioritization of patients for coordinated inter-facility transfer after a large-scale mass casualty event. This study examines factors that influence consultation team prioritization decisions.
As part of a multi-hospital functional exercise, 2 teams prioritized the same set of 69 patient profiles. Prioritization decisions were compared between teams. Agreement between teams was assessed based on patient profile demographics and injury severity. An investigator interviewed team leaders to determine reasons for discordant transfer decisions.
The 2 teams differed significantly in the total number of transfers recommended (49 vs 36; P = 0.003). However, there was substantial agreement when recommending transfer to burn centers, with 85.5% agreement and inter-rater reliability of 0.67 (confidence interval: 0.49–0.85). There was better agreement for patients with a higher acuity of injuries. Based on interviews, the most common reason for discordance was insider knowledge of the local community hospital and its capabilities.
A multi-disciplinary Mass Casualty Consultation team was able to rapidly prioritize patients for coordinated secondary transfer using limited clinical information. Training for consultation teams should emphasize guidelines for transfer based on existing services at sending and receiving hospitals, as knowledge of local community hospital capabilities influence physician decision-making.
Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCNs) are at an increased risk for physical, developmental, or emotional conditions, and require special services beyond what is typically required by children. Improving emergency preparedness amongst families with CSHCNs has been advocated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
We evaluated the preparedness of children and family members, who are infected, or affected, by HIV illness and require daily medications.
A convenience sample was used to enroll patients and their parents at a pediatric infectious disease clinic. Surveys were used to assess baseline emergency preparedness. Patients were then given an educational intervention on improving personal preparedness. Participants were provided with emergency go-kit and educational materials. Follow up was completed in 30 days to re-assess preparedness by re-administering the initial survey with additional questions.
Thirty-eight patients were enrolled and 10 were lost to follow up. Data from a total of 28 patients were used for study results analyses. Chi-squared testing was used for non-parametric variable analyses for an N < 30. Participants who designated an emergency meeting place outside of their home, post-intervention, were statistically significant-X2 (1) = 29.20, p-value <0.0001. Participants who completed an emergency information form, post-intervention, were statistically significant-X2 (1) = 13.69, p-value <0.0002. Participants who obtained an emergency kit of supplies for 3 days, post-intervention, were statistically significant-X2(1) = 8.92, p-value <0.0028. Participants who obtained a home first aid kit, post-intervention, were statistically significant-X2(1) = 12.16, p-value <0.0005. Five families obtained an emergency supply of medications, post-intervention-X2 (1) = 1.99, p-value = 0.1582. This result was not statistically significant.
This study demonstrates that brief educational intervention has potential to improve the preparedness of CSHCNs, including those living with HIV illness.
Currently, there are no universally accepted personal protective equipment (PPE) training guidelines for Emergency Medicine physicians, though many hospitals offer training through a brief didactic presentation. Physicians’ response to hazmat events requires PPE utilization to ensure the safety of victims, facilities, and providers; providing effective and accessible training is crucial. In the event of a real disaster, time constraints may not allow a brief in-person presentation and an accessible video training may be the only resource available.
To assess the effectiveness of video versus in-person training of 20 Emergency Medicine Residents in Level C PPE donning and doffing (chemical-resistant coverall, butyl gloves, boots, and an air-purifying respirator).
A prospective observational study was performed with 20 Emergency Medicine residents as part of Emergency Preparedness training. Residents were divided into two groups, with Group A viewing a demonstration video developed by the emergency preparedness team, and Group B receiving in-person training by a Hazmat Team Member. Evaluators assessed critical tasks of donning and doffing PPE utilizing a prepared evaluation tool. At the drill’s conclusion, all participants completed a self-evaluation to determine their confidence in their respective trainings.
Both video and in-person training modalities showed significant improvement in participants’ confidence in doffing and donning a PPE suit (p>0.05). However, no statistically significant difference was seen between training modalities in the performance of donning or doffing (p>0.05).
Video and in-person training are equally effective in preparing residents for donning and doffing Level C PPE, with similar error rates in both modalities. Future trainings should focus on decreasing the overall rate of breaches across all training modalities.
The basis of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is the Theory of Natural Law, which states that the laws of morality and the ability to use reason in the determination of inalienable human rights, are innate to humans, and cannot be taken away by any states or laws. IHL is an agreement among nation-states that applies to situations of conflict to protect civilians and guides conduct in time of war. IHL extends protection to civilian medical personnel. The recent escalation in chemical weapons use by states has violated IHL and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) treaty, with little repercussion from the international community.
We review the increase in chemical weapons use, international chemical weapon treaty violations, and violations of IHL against medical personnel.
A review was conducted of existing medical and grey literature for sources discussing chemical agents, their history, and violations of laws prohibiting their production, stockpiling, or use. The following publications were reviewed: PubMed, EBSCHost, and Google Scholar.
The use of sarin, chlorine, and mustard gas against civilians has been confirmed multiple times in Syria by the United Nations since 2011. Physicians for Human Rights mapped 537 attacks, both violent and chemical, against 348 different medical facilities in Syria from March 2011 to July 2018. Since March 2011, at least 847 civilian medical personnel have reportedly been killed. Many were killed by government forces as part of a war strategy creating further incapacitation. Most recently, Medecins Sans Frontiers concluded its Yemen mission due to repeated attacks, including two in one week in October 2018.
There must be recognition and emphasis on the health severity of such attacks and the violations of IHL and the CWC. Physicians must use their unique positions for advocacy and call for action in upholding international treaties.
Recent natural and infrastructural disasters, such as Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Katrina (2005) and the Northeastern power outage of 2003, have emphasized the need for hospital staff to be trained in disaster management and response. Even an internal hospital disaster may require the safe and efficient evacuation and transfer of patients with varying medical conditions and complications. A notably susceptible population is renal transplant patients, including those with post-transplant complications.
This descriptive study evaluated staff performance of a vertical evacuation drill of renal transplant patients at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital Brooklyn (UHB; Brooklyn, New York USA).
Thirteen standardized patients, 12 of whom received a renal transplant, with varying medical histories, ambulatory ability, and mental status were vertically evacuated by the transplant staff from the eighth floor to the ambulance entrance on the ground floor. Non-ambulatory patients were transported on portable evacuation sleds.
All patients were evacuated successfully within 3.5 hours. On a post-drill evaluation form, drill participants self-reported largely positive results concerning their own role in the drill and the evacuation drill itself. Drill evaluators observed very different results, including staff reticence, poor training retention, and lack of leadership.
Despite encouraging post-drill evaluation results from the participants, the evacuation drill highlighted several immediate deficiencies. It also demonstrated a significant discrepancy in performance perception between the drill participants and the drill evaluators.
SalwayRJ, AdlerZ, WilliamsT, NwokeF, RoblinP, ArquillaB. The Challenges of a Vertical Evacuation Drill. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(1):25–29.
In resource-constrained environments, appropriately employing triage in disaster situations is crucial. Although both case-based learning (CBL) and simulation exercises (SEs) commonly are utilized in teaching disaster preparedness to adult learners, there is no substantial evidence supporting one as a more efficacious methodology. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluated the effectiveness of CBL versus SEs in addition to standard didactic instruction in knowledge attainment pertaining to disaster triage preparedness.
This RCT was performed during a one-day disaster preparedness course in Lucknow, India during October 2014. Following provision of informed consent, nursing trainees were randomized to knowledge assessment after didactic teaching (control group); didactic plus CBL (Intervention Group 1); or didactic plus SE (Intervention Group 2). The educational curriculum used the topical focus of triage processes during disaster situations. Cases for the educational intervention sessions were scripted, identical between modalities, and employed structured debriefing. Trained live actors were used for SEs. After primary assessment, the groups underwent crossover to take part in the alternative educational modality and were re-assessed. Two standardized multiple-choice question batteries, encompassing key core content, were used for assessments. A sample size of 48 participants was calculated to detect a ≥20% change in mean knowledge score (α=0.05; power=80%). Robustness of randomization was evaluated using X2, anova, and t-tests. Mean knowledge attainment scores were compared using one- and two-sample t-tests for intergroup and intragroup analyses, respectively.
Among 60 enrolled participants, 88.3% completed follow-up. No significant differences in participant characteristics existed between randomization arms. Mean baseline knowledge score in the control group was 43.8% (standard deviation=11.0%). Case-based learning training resulted in a significant increase in relative knowledge scores at 20.8% (P=0.003) and 10.3% (P=.033) in intergroup and intragroup analyses, respectively. As compared to control, SEs did not significantly alter knowledge attainment scores with an average score increase of 6.6% (P=.396). In crossover intra-arm analysis, SEs were found to result in a 26.0% decrement in mean assessment score (P < .001).
Among nursing trainees assessed in this RCT, the CBL modality was superior to SEs in short-term disaster preparedness educational translation. Simulation exercises resulted in no detectable improvement in knowledge attainment in this population, suggesting that CBL may be utilized preferentially for adult learners in similar disaster training settings.
AluisioAR, DanielP, GrockA, FreedmanJ, SinghA, PapanagnouD, ArquillaB. Case-based Learning Outperformed Simulation Exercises in Disaster Preparedness Education Among Nursing Trainees in India: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(5):516–523.
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of community-based volunteer groups created in 2002 by the Office of the United States Surgeon General (Rockville, Maryland USA) to augment the nation’s ability to respond to medical and public health emergencies. However, there is little evidence-based literature available to guide hospitals on the optimal use of medical volunteers and hesitancy on the part of hospitals to use them.
This study sought to determine how MRC volunteers can be used in hospital-based disasters through their participation in a full-scale exercise.
A full-scale exercise was designed as a “Disaster Olympics,” in which the Emergency Medicine residents were divided into teams tasked with completing one of the following five challenges: victim decontamination, mass casualty/decontamination tent assembly, patient triage and registration during a disaster, point of distribution (POD) site set-up and operation, and infection control management. A surge of patients potentially exposed to avian influenza was the scenario created for the latter three challenges. Some MRC volunteers were assigned clinical roles. These roles included serving as members of the suit support team for victim decontamination, distributing medications at the POD, and managing infection control. Other MRC volunteers functioned as “victim evaluators,” who portrayed the potential avian influenza victims while simultaneously evaluating various aspects of the disaster response. The MRC volunteers provided feedback on their experience and evaluators provided feedback on the performance of the MRC volunteers using evaluation tools.
Twenty-eight (90%) MRC volunteers reported that they worked well with the residents and hospital staff, felt the exercise was useful, and were assigned clearly defined roles. However, only 21 (67%) reported that their qualifications were assessed prior to role assignment. For those MRC members who functioned as “victim evaluators,” nine identified errors in aspects of the care they received and the disaster response. Of those who evaluated the MRC, nine (90%) felt that the MRC worked well with the residents and hospital staff. Ten (100%) of these evaluators recommended that MRC volunteers participate in future disaster exercises.
Through use of a full-scale exercise, this study was able to identify roles for MRC volunteers in a hospital-based disaster. This study also found MRC volunteers to be uniquely qualified to serve as “victim evaluators” in a hospital-based disaster exercise.
GistR, DanielP, GrockA, LinC, BryantC, KohlhoffS, RoblinP, ArquillaB. Use of Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers in a Hospital-based Disaster Exercise. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(3):259–262.