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Margolis G.S.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | Rising K.L.,University of Pennsylvania
Health Affairs

The emergency care system is an essential part of the US health care system. In addition to providing acute resuscitation and life- and limb-saving care, the emergency care system provides considerable support to physicians outside the emergency department and serves as an important safety-net provider. In times of disaster, the emergency care system must be able to surge rapidly to accommodate a massive influx of patients, sometimes with little or no notice. Extreme daily demands on the system can promote innovations and adaptations that are invaluable in responding to disasters. However, excessive and inappropriate utilization is wasteful and can diminish "surge capacity" when it is most needed. Certain features of the US health care system have imposed strains on the emergency care system. We explore policy issues related to moving toward an emergency care system that can more effectively meet both individuals' needs for acute care and the broader needs of the community in times of disaster. Strategies for the redesign of the emergency care system must include the active engagement of both patients and the community and a close look at how to align incentives to reward quality and efficiency throughout the health care system. © 2013 Project HOPE-The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc. Source

Grace M.B.,Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority | Moyer B.R.,Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority | Moyer B.R.,Tunnell Consulting Inc | Prasher J.,Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority | And 8 more authors.
Health Physics

A large-scale radiological incident would result in an immediate critical need to assess the radiation doses received by thousands of individuals to allow for prompt triage and appropriate medical treatment. Measuring absorbed doses of ionizing radiation will require a system architecture or a system of platforms that contains diverse, integrated diagnostic and dosimetric tools that are accurate and precise. For large-scale incidents, rapidity and ease of screening are essential. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health is the focal point within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for basic research and development of medical countermeasures for radiation injuries. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response coordinates and administers programs for the advanced development and acquisition of emergency medical countermeasures for the Strategic National Stockpile. Using a combination of funding mechanisms, including funds authorized by the Project BioShield Act of 2004 and those authorized by the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006, HHS is enhancing the nation's preparedness by supporting the radiation dose assessment capabilities that will ensure effective and appropriate use of medical countermeasures in the aftermath of a radiological or nuclear incident. © 2010 Health Physics Society. Source

Davids M.S.,Dana-Farber Cancer Institute | Case C.,National Marrow Donor Program | Hornung R.,National Marrow Donor Program | Chao N.J.,Duke University | And 5 more authors.
Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Hematologists/oncologists would provide essential care for victims of a catastrophic radiation incident, such as the detonation of an improvised nuclear device (IND). The US Radiation Injury Treatment Network (RITN) is a voluntary consortium of 37 academic medical centers, 8 blood donor centers, and 7 umbilical cord banks focused on preparedness for radiation incidents. The RITN conducted 2 tabletop exercises to evaluate response capability after a hypothetical IND detonation in a U.S. city. In the 2008 exercise, medical centers voluntarily accepted 1757 victims at their institutions, a small fraction of the number in need. In the 2009 exercise, each center was required to accept 300 victims. In response, the centers outlined multiple strategies to increase bed availability, extend staff and resources, and support family and friends accompanying transferred victims. The exercises highlighted shortcomings in current planning and future steps for improving surge capacity that are applicable to various mass casualty scenarios. © 2010 American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Source

Knebel A.R.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | Coleman C.N.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | Cliffer K.D.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | Murrain-Hill P.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | And 13 more authors.
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness

The purpose of this article is to set the context for this special issue of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness on the allocation of scarce resources in an improvised nuclear device incident. A nuclear detonation occurs when a sufficient amount of fissile material is brought suddenly together to reach critical mass and cause an explosion. Although the chance of a nuclear detonation is thought to be small, the consequences are potentially catastrophic, so planning for an effective medical response is necessary, albeit complex. A substantial nuclear detonation will result in physical effects and a great number of casualties that will require an organized medical response to save lives. With this type of incident, the demand for resources to treat casualties will far exceed what is available. To meet the goal of providing medical care (including symptomatic/palliative care) with fairness as the underlying ethical principle, planning for allocation of scarce resources among all involved sectors needs to be integrated and practiced. With thoughtful and realistic planning, the medical response in the chaotic environment may be made more effective and efficient for both victims and medical responders. © 2011 American Medical Association. Source

Merchant R.M.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | Merchant R.M.,University of Pennsylvania | Finne K.,Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response | Lardy B.,Americas Health Insurance Plans | And 4 more authors.
American Journal of Managed Care

Objectives: Health insurance plans serve a critical role in public health emergencies, yet little has been published about their collective emergency preparedness practices and policies. We evaluated, on a national scale, the state of health insurance plans' emergency preparedness and policies. Study Design: A survey of health insurance plans. Methods: We queried members of America's Health Insurance Plans, the national trade association representing the health insurance industry, about issues related to emergency preparedness issues: infrastructure, adaptability, connectedness, and best practices. Results: Of 137 health insurance plans queried, 63% responded, representing 190.6 million members and 81% of US plan enrollment. All respondents had emergency plans for business continuity, and most (85%) had infrastructure for emergency teams. Some health plans also have established benchmarks for preparedness (eg, response time). Regarding adaptability, 85% had protocols to extend claim filing time and 71% could temporarily suspend prior medical authorization rules. Regarding connectedness, many plans shared their contingency plans with health officials, but often cited challenges in identifying regulatory agency contacts. Some health insurance plans had specific policies for assisting individuals dependent on durable medical equipment or home healthcare. Many plans (60%) expressed interest in sharing best practices. Conclusions: Health insurance plans are prioritizing emergency preparedness. We identified 6 policy modifications that health insurance plans could undertake to potentially improve healthcare system preparedness: establishing metrics and benchmarks for emergency preparedness; identifying disaster-specific policy modifications, enhancing stakeholder connectedness, considering digital strategies to enhance communication, improving support and access for special needs individuals, and developing regular forums for knowledge exchange about emergency preparedness. Source

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