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US Hospitals Show Greater Levels Of Emergency Preparation

April 24, 2009

U.S. hospitals are notably better prepared for disasters than they were before the September 11 attacks, but experts warned Thursday that their medical facilities are still poorly equipped and in need of vast improvement should any catastrophic event like natural disasters or terrorist attacks occur.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, a 2002 U.S. governmental program was instituted in order to assist hospitals in training their staff and coordinate planning with one another as well as emergency officials, reports Reuters.

The report states, “Prior to 2002, most hospitals did not have adequate plans to handle common medical disasters, much less catastrophic emergencies.”

The center’s experts presented research showing a great improvement in preparedness to handle common disasters like tornadoes, bridge collapses and mass shootings. They consider the Hospital Preparedness Program responsible for such progress.

Despite the improvement in these areas, the report still claims that the hospitals are lacking adequate resources to deal with large numbers of patients incurred by massive and ongoing disasters.

They wrote, “While we found … that a strong foundation has been built for hospitals to be able to respond to catastrophic situations — such as large earthquakes, pandemic influenza, or the aftermath of nuclear or biological terrorism — there is much to be done before hospitals are prepared to address the complicated challenges associated with those large-scale events that drain response resources over a prolonged period of time.”

Various studies show that U.S hospitals lack beds, rooms, and staff to respond to a sudden increase in patients and even lack sufficient space for new patients on any given day. This current situation would render them completely inundated by a disaster of large proportion.

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