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ER Doctors’ Poll: 90 Percent of Hospitals Not Prepared for Mass Tragedies

Nine out of 10 respondents also said their hospital lacks adequate stockpiles of critical medications necessary for major disasters.

ER Doctors’ Poll: 90 Percent of Hospitals Not Prepared for Mass Tragedies

Nine out of ten hospitals are not prepared for major disasters or mass tragedies and have experienced shortages in critical medicines, according to a recent poll of emergency room doctors.

In a new poll given to 1,328 ER doctors by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) between April 25 and May 6, 93 percent of respondents said their ER would be unable to handle a surge of patients resulting from a natural or human-caused disaster.

Additionally, 49 percent said their hospital is “somewhat” prepared while nine out of 10 said they lack adequate stockpiles of critical medications, reports CBS News.

Another 90 percent of respondents said they’ve been forced to take time away from treating patients to investigate alternative treatments and drugs.

“Hospitals and emergency medical services continue to suffer significant gaps in disaster preparedness, as well as national drug shortages for essential emergency medications,” ACEP President Dr. Paul Kivela said in a news release. “These shortages can last for months, or longer, and constitute a significant risk to patients.”

Nearly 70 percent also said drug shortages had increased significantly over the past year alone, reports Cision.

Kivela said the survey’s findings point to the need for a stronger focus on the medical aspects of preparedness in the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018 (PAHPAI), which is being drafted in Washington, D.C.

PAHPAI aims to improve the country’s ability to prepare for and respond to deliberate bioterrorist attacks or naturally occurring pandemics.

“Emergency physicians are concerned that our system cannot even meet daily demands, let alone during a medical surge for a natural or man-made disaster,” Kivela added. “Congress must recognize that current shortages of essential emergency medications are a substantial threat to our nation’s preparedness and response capabilities.”

Along with the release of the survey’s results, ACEP also called on federal lawmakers to take necessary steps to improve hospital preparations for mass casualty events, including improved coordination among public health and safety services, improved monitoring resources, and the implementation of regional data management systems that link hospitals to other facilities.

ACEP is also urging lawmakers to create a task force that would include input from agencies within the federal government, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In addition, ACEP recommends making military trauma teams available to civilian trauma centers when they are not deployed, allowing the teams to maintain their skills in between rotations to conflict areas.

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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