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New disaster planning guide offers valuable mass casualty care information

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released Providing Mass Medical Care With Scarce Resources: A Community Planning Guide, which provides community planners, as well as planners at the institutional, State, and Federal levels, with valuable information to help plan for and respond to a mass casualty event (MCE). An MCE is a catastrophic public health or terrorism-related event, such as an influenza pandemic, in which the needs of tens of thousands of patients or victims could overwhelm the community's healthcare system.

This planning guide examines MCE response and preparedness challenges across a wide range of health care settings and provides recommendations for planners in specific areas. It also discusses:

  • Ethical and legal considerations related to MCE planning in prehospital, hospital, acute care, and alternative care sites.
  • Planning for palliative care, or the aggressive management of symptoms and relief of suffering, that must be integrated into the planning for, and response to, an MCE.
  • Situations that communities could face as a result of an MCE.
  • Key constructs, principles, and structures that should be incorporated into the advanced planning.
  • Approaches and strategies that could be used to provide the most appropriate standards of care possible under the circumstances.
  • Examples of tools and resources that are available to help States and communities in their planning process.
  • Illustrative examples of how health systems, communities, and States have approached certain issues as part of their MCE-related planning efforts.

Providing Mass Medical Care With Scarce Resources: A Community Planning Guide is the product of a collaborative effort between AHRQ and the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and can be found online at http://www.ahrq.gov/research/mce. Print copies (AHRQ publication no. 07-0001) are also available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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