Hospital preparedness and the Boston Marathon bombing

From the CDC’s Public Health Matters Blog:

In the last eight years, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has conducted 78 large scale emergency drills.  On the afternoon of April 15, immediately following the two bombs set off during the Boston marathon, it was time to put their well-practiced plans into action.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital had prepared for a variety of events, both natural and man-made.  Casting a wide net and taking an all-hazards approach, they ran drills for oil spills, chemical attacks, active shooters, blizzards, train crashes, hurricanes and building evacuations. The hospital ran exercises and responded to real-life events at a division, departmental, hospital, city-wide and state-wide level.  No doubt, the drills helped to establish routines and relationships across departments and across systems.

On Monday, April 15, there was a short turnaround between finding out about the event and implementing a plan.  At 2:54 p.m., when  the call came in about two explosions at the race, the already busy 55-bed emergency department had 66 patients.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital implemented what they call a Code Amber, activating the hospital disaster response system.  The hospital-wide response plan that they practiced regularly started with building capacity and capability in the emergency department, in the operating rooms, and throughout the hospital.  Where possible, patients were discharged or transitioned to other departments to disperse the crowded area.  Multiple operating rooms were rapidly opened and staffed for potential emergency surgeries.

The hospital cared for 39 patients from the bombing, 23 in the first 45 minutes. Staff set up a primary triage team to assess immediate need before a secondary triage team identified patients that needed emergent surgery.   Patients requiring surgery went directly to the operating room from the Emergency Department, just as they had drilled in prior exercises.   Patients were rapidly cared for throughout the hospital.

Read the complete post here.

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