Institutes of Medicine report finds faulty and fragmented medical response system
| 06.15.2006 | 07:49:44 | Views: 2948 | ID:
June 15 '06: According to the National Public Radio show "Talk of the Nation," Wednesday, a new report released by the Institute of Medicine looked at the current state of the nation's hospital emergency rooms and found that overall, the national emergency medical system is "overburdened, underfunded, and highly fragmented." In some cases, those seeking medical attention in crowded hospitals are forced to wait up to 48 hours before they receive medical help. Furthermore, first responder medical personnel, and EMS services "do not effectively coordinate EMS services with ED's (Emergency Departments) and trauma center. As a result, regional flow of patients is poorly managed, leaving some ED's empty and other crowded," the report read.
The report also found that federal oversight of US medical emergency services is "scattered". Additionally, there are no nationwide standards "for the training and certification of EMS personnel" and EMS agencies "do not communicate effectively with public safety agencies and public health departments - they often operate on different radio frequencies and lack common procedures for emergencies."Government officials have said greater coordination among medical personnel and the government on all levels is vital for the protection of the nation against a large-scale pandemic like the asian bird flu. Earlier in May, President Bush announced his administration's efforts to tackle the problem of a national pandemic spreading from bird flu. The $7.1 billion-funded National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza was created to address problems such as surge capacity, containment and quarantine precautions needed to be taken by the medical community in cooperation with federal, state and local levels of government. In the IOM report, however, medical services would have a hard time coordinating their response efforts if a disease or a biological attack were to affect a large population. "With many EDs at or over capacity, there is little surge capacity for a major event, whether it takes the form of a natural disaster, disease or outbreak, or terrorist attack," the report found. Other problems suggested greater effort needs to be focused on training emergency medical staff and funding. Only 4 percent of Department of Homeland Security funding went to first responder funding for 2002 and 2003; emergency medical technicians "have received an average of less than one hour of training in disaster response"; and hospital and EMS personnel "lack personal protective equipment needed to effectively respond to chemical, biological, or nuclear threats."
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