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Full-scale disaster drills are complex, expensive, and may involve hundreds or thousands of people. However, even when carefully planned, they often fail to manifest the details of medical care given to the casualties during the drill.
To assess the feasibility of integrating physicians among the simulated casualties of a hospital disaster drill.
A total of 178 physicians graduating an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course participated in eight hospital disaster drills during 1994 as “Smart Victims.” The participants were given cards with descriptions of their injury and detailed instructions on how to manipulate their medical condition according to the medical care provided in the hospital. They also were given coded questionnaires to fill out during the process of the drill. Conclusions were drawn from analysis of the questionnaires and from a roundtable discussion following each drill.
The “smart casualties” made comments on the following topics: 1) triage (over-triage in 9%, and under-triage in 4%); 2) treatment sites; 3) medical equipment usage (i.e., shortage of ventilators and splinting devices); 4) medical knowledge and care rendered by the hospital staff; 5) evacuation and escorting of the wounded; 6) management of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder; and 7) medical documentation. Their comments contributed valuable information on the quality of medical care and organization, and identified obstacles that otherwise would have been overlooked. The “smart casualties” were very cooperative and indicated that their participation in the drill contributed to their understanding of disaster situations in hospitals.
Integrating physicians among the simulated casualties in a hospital disaster drill may contribute to achieving the objectives of hospital disaster drills and add to disaster management education of the simulated casualty physicians.
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