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Data Sources for the At-Risk Community-Dwelling Patient Population

This resource was developed by AHRQ as part of its Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011. Many of AHRQ's PHEP materials and activities will be supported by other Federal agencies. Notice of transfer to another agency will be posted on this site.

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1. Introduction

Many patients who live in the community and need some degree of medical assistance may be unable to manage if their resources or services are depleted during a mass casualty event (MCE). Patients who are not directly affected by an MCE but who have daily medical needs, those who cannot manage their medical needs in a shelter, and those who do not have family caregivers are likely to seek care at hospitals that will already be burdened by caring for people directly affected by the MCE. This study investigates data sources to enumerate and estimate the number of people who, though not directly affected by an MCE, might seek hospital care during an MCE.

The report summarizes findings about the availability of data to quantify the at-risk community population. The city of Worcester, Massachusetts, was selected as the test area for determining how many residents in a geographic area fall into one of the major at-risk categories. Worcester is located in central Massachusetts, 45 miles west of Boston, with a population close to 175,500. It is the second largest city in New England.

Patients were grouped according to their functional, medical, and psychosocial needs. Table 1 shows the types of care needs that were included in each of the major categories.

A variety of data sources were studied for how well they capture the care needs of the at-risk population, ease of use, availability, and time of most recent update. Table 2 shows the data sources that were reviewed, their geographic specificity, and the dates of the most recent data available.

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