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Hospital Disaster Operations During the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2012

Julie Martchenke*
Affiliation:
Emergency Department, San Francisco General Hospital, Emergency Medical Services Agency, Department of Public Health, City and County of San Francisco, Calif.
James E. Pointer
Affiliation:
The Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, Calif.
*
City and County of San Francisco, 1540 Market St., Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102USA

Abstract

Objective:

To study hospital disaster operations following a major United States disaster.

Design:

Researchers interviewed all 51 hospital administrators and 49 of 51 emergency department (ED) charge nurses and emergency physicians who were on duty at the study hospitals during the 13-hour period immediately following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Setting:

The 51 acute-care hospitals in the six northern California counties most affected by the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Measurements:

Questionnaires and inperson interviews.

Results:

The most frequently noted problem was lack of communications within and among organizations. Hospitals received inadequate information about the disaster from local governmental agencies. Forty-three percent of hospitals had inadequate back-up power configurations, and five hospitals sustained total back-up generator failures. Twenty hospitals performed partial evacuations.

Conclusions:

The Loma Prieta earthquake did not cause total disruption of hospital services. Hospitals need to work with local governmental agencies and internal hospital departments to improve disaster communications.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 1994

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