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After a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Hualien on February 6, 2018, over one hundred and fifty patients crammed into the emergency department of a nearby tertiary hospital within two hours. The mass casualty incident (MCI) call was activated, and over 300 related personnel responded to the call and engaged with the MCI management.
This research aimed to analyze the practice of an MCI call and to form the strategies to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
The research was conducted in a tertiary hospital in Hualien, Taiwan. Questionnaires regarding the practice of the MCI call were sent out to the healthcare providers in the emergency department who responded to that MCI operation.
Thirty-seven responders in the emergency department were involved in this study. 78% had participated in training courses for hospital incident command system (HICS) or MCI management before this event. On arrival at the emergency department, 69.4% of the responders were aware of the check-in station and received a clear task assignment and briefing. During the operation, 25.7% reported the lack of confidence carrying out the assigned tasks and 54.1% of the participants experienced great stress (stress score over 7 out of 10).
MCI is an uncommon event for hospital management. It is universally challenging owing to its unpredictable and time-sensitive nature. Furthermore, the administration could be further complicated by the associated disasters. Despite regular exercises and drills, there are still a significant number of participants experiencing stress and confusion during the operation. The chaotic situation may further compromise the performance of the participants. This study showed that optimizing task briefing and on-site directions may improve the performance of the MCI participants.
On February 6, 2018, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Hualien, a county of East Taiwan. Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, the only tertiary hospital in East Taiwan, activated the mass casualty incident (MCI) call and received 144 patients that night. Our operation did not perform satisfactorily despite regular MCI drills. Thus, a new strategy to cope with the increasing frequency of disaster-related MCIs was developed.
To facilitate the management of disaster-related MCIs, we developed a novel Disaster Response System which includes a triage system combining Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) and Five-Level Taiwan Triage and Acuity Scale (TTAS), a novel registration system for MCIs, and anonymous patient identification and reporting system.
We begin the triage with the START method and then shift to the TTAS. The new registration system only needs the patient’s gender, age, and triage category. Patients are then assigned to different treatment areas accordingly. Further dispositions are applied after initial stabilization management. To identify the anonymous disaster victims, we take photographs of victims after clean-up and display them on an electronic bulletin with the patient list to the families in our emergency department. Real-time casualty statistics are collected automatically and synchronized to the governmental administrative system.
This novel Disaster Response System reduces the time from patient arrival to definite treatment and disposition in a simulated mass casualty incident exercise. The victim identification bulletin provides clear information to those who are seeking their family, and thus, avoids the chaos of the scene.
From the experience of the earthquake-related MCI, we found that inadequate training causes time mis-triage and treatment delays. Our Disaster Response System facilitates the workflow with an easily practiced algorithm, reveals on-time and easily accessible information to the public, and altogether improves our MCI management.
On February 6, 2018, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Hualien, Taiwan. Over 150 patients crammed into the emergency department of nearby hospitals within two hours. Mass casualty incident (MCI) management was activated. During the recovery phase, little attention was paid to the mental health of hospital staff.
To analyze the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among healthcare providers (HCPs) and explore the possible risk factors.
63 HCPs in the emergency department of the single tertiary hospital near the epicenter were included. The Chinese version of the Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS-C) was used to evaluate the prevalence of PTSD. Questionnaires were sent to explore the possible contributing factors.
The average age of the HCPs was 32.7 years (30.3 years for nurses; 40.4 years for physicians). The prevalence of PTSD was 3.2% eight months after the incident. The mean DTS-C score was 8.9/136. Nurses had a higher score than physicians (10.8 and 4.7). HCPs with 6-10 years working experience had the highest score (14.2), while those with less than 3 years experience had the lowest (4.8).
We found HCPs had a lower prevalence of PTSD compared with earthquake survivors (Chou 2007), and physicians had longer working years and lower DTS-C scores. The professional training may help HCPs going through psychological impacts during the disaster. HCPs with 6-10 years of experience in the emergency department were found to have a higher risk of developing PTSD. Most of them were taking the responsibility of a team leader during the MCI, which may cause significant stress to these staff. Adequate training regarding MCI management could help to relieve tension and frustration, hoping to prevent the development of PTSD. Based on our study, PTSD among HCPs is an ignored issue, and we should follow-up HCPs’ psychological condition in the future.
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