Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 December 2016
A model prepared by National Civil Defense (INDECI; Lima, Peru) estimated that an earthquake with an intensity of 8.0 Mw in front of the central coast of Peru would result in 51,019 deaths and 686,105 injured in districts of Metropolitan Lima and Callao. Using this information as a base, a study was designed to determine the characteristics of the demand for treatment in public hospitals and to estimate gaps in care in the hours immediately after such an event.
A probabilistic model was designed that included the following variables: demand for hospital care; time of arrival at the hospitals; type of medical treatment; reason for hospital admission; and the need for specialized care like hemodialysis, blood transfusions, and surgical procedures. The values for these variables were obtained through a literature search of the databases of the MEDLINE medical bibliography, the Cochrane and SciELO libraries, and Google Scholar for information on earthquakes over the last 30 years of over magnitude 6.0 on the moment magnitude scale.
If a high-magnitude earthquake were to occur in Lima, it was estimated that between 23,328 and 178,387 injured would go to hospitals, of which between 4,666 and 121,303 would require inpatient care, while between 18,662 and 57,084 could be treated as outpatients. It was estimated that there would be an average of 8,768 cases of crush syndrome and 54,217 cases of other health problems. Enough blood would be required for 8,761 wounded in the first 24 hours. Furthermore, it was expected that there would be a deficit of hospital beds and operating theaters due to the high demand.
Sudden and violent disasters, such as earthquakes, represent significant challenges for health systems and services. This study shows the deficit of preparation and capacity to respond to a possible high-magnitude earthquake. The study also showed there are not enough resources to face mega-disasters, especially in large cities.