Hospital emergency preparedness shows some holes

While nearly every U.S. hospitals surveyed had response plans for at least one hazard related to epidemics/pandemics, biological, chemical, nuclear/radiological, explosive/incendiary, or natural incidents (such as earthquakes), far fewer have plans for nuclear or radiological accidents or attacks, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on hospital preparedness.

Almost 90 percent of hospitals had plans for isolating airborne disease patients in negative pressure rooms. But just three-fourths (74 percent) of hospitals had plans for setting up temporary facilities when the hospital is unusable--such as when power was lost or flooding occurred. Just over hald (51 percent) of hospitals had plans to convert inpatient units to augment intensive care capacity.

While most hospitals (88 percent) had memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with other hospitals to transfer adults during an epidemic, fewer hospitals had MOUs for pediatrics and burn patients. Less than one-half of hospitals said they could accommodated the needs of children and persons with disabilities during a public health emergency.

For more information:
- see the CDC National Health Statistics Report
- read this ABC News report
- read this article by the UPI