Health officials work to mitigate surge during medical emergency
| 12.13.2006 | 06:40:59 | Views: 2992 | ID:
December 13 '06: Medical officials have worried about surge capacity in the nation's hospitals during a crisis such as Hurricane Katrina or the attacks on September 11, 2001. Johns Hopkins University Medicine reported recently that one plan proposed by leading health experts would call for hospitals to "begin with a strategy to empty their beds of relatively healthier patients."
In essence, about 70 percent of those within the inpatient population are able to be released from the hospital, JHU reported. In order to assess the healthiest patients, "all hospitalized patients at any given time should be routinely ranked according to how sick they are and assigned a constantly updated 'score' based on their vital signs."The plan, developed by a blue-ribbon panel of experts from around the US, was led by JHU Director of the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response and head of emergency medicine at the university Gabor Kelen, M.D.. The scoring method designating the healthiest patients who could free their beds "would put them at a moment's notice into risk groups that would rapidly inform decisions to discharge them or send them to another facility should a major disaster occur." The scoring system would be classified into five categories based "on their considered risk of a life-threatening or life impairing medical problem," JHU explained. Patients with the "minimum" scoring risk would be sent home; "low-risk" could be transfered home; "moderate" to be transfered to another facility; "high-risk" would be transfered to acute-care facilities; and "very high-risk" would be transfered to a critical care facility. Medical officials are planning a study with 4,000 real patients to determine "whether or not the classification system would have actually worked in disaster conditions," JHU reported.
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