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A unique hospital physician disaster response system for a nonemployed medical staff

James D. Leo, MD, FCCP, Desiree Thomas, RN, MSN, CCRN, Ginger Alhadeff, BA, RN, MA


Private hospitals with nonemployed, volunteer medical staffs face a special challenge in meeting the patient-care needs posed by a mass casualty incident (MCI). Although most disaster response systems focus on emergency department and trauma management, such systems often do not provide for the need to triage existing inpatients to create room for incoming casualties, for continuity of physician care for those patients, as well as for MCI victims in case of major disaster. Such systems must also provide a mechanism for ethical and appropriate rationing of limited resources during a MCI. Community hospitals without 24/7 in-house physicians must provide a mechanism for physician care for patients in situations in which access to the hospital may be limited by the disaster (eg, major earthquake or flood). This article describes a system established at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, a 740-bed not-for-profit hospital with a volunteer medical staff, to ensure continuity of physician care in a major disaster. To our knowledge, this is the first published report of such a system.


disaster, emergency, response

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