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Hospital evacuations due to disasters in the United States in the twenty-first century

Sharon E. Mace, MD, FACEP, FAAP, Aishwarya Sharma, BS

Abstract


Hospitals, which care for some of the most vulnerable individuals, have been impacted by disasters in the past and are likely to be affected by future disasters. Yet data on hospital evacuations are infrequent and outdated, at best. This goal of this study was to determine the characteristics and frequency of disasters in the United States that have resulted in hospital evacuations by an appraisal of the literature from 2000 to 2017. There were 158 hospital evacuations in the United States over 18 years. The states with the highest number of evacuations were Florida (N = 39), California (N = 30), and. Texas (N = 15). The reason for the evacuation was “natural” in 114 (72.2 percent), made-man “intentional” 14 (8.9 percent), and man-made “unintentional” or technological related to internal hospital infrastructure 30 (19 percent).The most common natural threats were hurricanes (N = 65) (57 percent), wildfires (N = 21) (18.4 percent), floods (N = 10) (8.8 percent), and storms (N = 8) (7 percent). Bombs/ bomb threats were the most common reason (N = 8) (57.1 percent) for a hospital evacuation resulting from a manmade intentional disaster, followed by armed gunman (N = 4) (28.6 percent). The most frequent infrastructure problems included hospital fires/smoke (N = 9) (30 percent), and chemical fumes (N = 7) (23.3 percent). Of those that reported the duration and number of evacuees, 30 percent of evacuations lasted over 24 h and the number of evacuees was >100 in over half (55.2 percent) the evacuations. This information regarding hospital evacuations should allow hospital administrators, disaster planners, and others to better prepare for disasters that result in the need for hospital evacuation.

Keywords


disasters, hospitals, hospital evacuations, natural disasters, man-made disasters, humankind disasters

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2020.0351

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