IJCM  Vol.4 No.12 , December 2013
Assessing Healthcare Facilities Preparedness for Mass Fatalities Incident

Background: Any healthcare facility must be prepared to handle a dramatic increase in deaths that can be produced by a catastrophic disaster. A mass fatality incident (MFI) will significantly increase the usual number of deaths that hospitals or forensic science services can manage on a daily basis. A survey was conducted to assess the hospital emergency department level of preparedness to deal with an MFI. Objective: To examine healthcare facilities level of preparedness for an MFI and morgue capacity. Methods: A total of 39 out of a sample of 44 hospitals participated in the study. Seven questionnaires were administered to explore: hospital general characteristics; emergency plans; equipment and infrastructure; collaborative agreements; personnel trainings; emergency communications; laboratory facilities; treatment protocols; security; and, epidemiologic surveillance. Results: Three-fourths (79.5%) of the healthcare facilities reported having a morgue, their average storage capacity was of three bodies. More than two-thirds (66.7%) of the institutions stated that they could not increase their morgue’s capacity. Most installations without a morgue do not possess an agreement with any other institution for the management of bodies. Hospitals have a very limited number of body bags utilized for the handling and transport of bodies. Conclusion: Most of healthcare facilities have morgues, but there are limitations with the current capacity and the lack of resources to increase their capacity in case of a disaster. Management of an MFI must be part of every hospital’s emergency plan, and must include collaborative agreements with forensic authorities, emergency management and public health agencies, and the community.

Cite this paper: M. Peña-Orellana, R. Rivera-Gutiérrez, J. Gónzalez-Sánchez, N. Padilla-Elías, H. Marín Centeno, H. Alonso-Serra, L. Millán-Pérez and P. Monserrate-Vázquez, "Assessing Healthcare Facilities Preparedness for Mass Fatalities Incident," International Journal of Clinical Medicine, Vol. 4 No. 12, 2013, pp. 525-531. doi: 10.4236/ijcm.2013.412091.

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