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New Disaster Planning Guide Offers Valuable Mass Casualty Care Information

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Press Release Date: November 16, 2006

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today 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 that will help their efforts to 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 health care 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. The guide also discusses ethical and legal considerations related to MCE planning in pre-hospital, 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, also is covered.

"To be effective in their planning efforts, local, state, and regional leaders need to be aware of the latest research, tools, and models available," said AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. "With the publication of this new community planning guide, our Nation's preparation and response efforts are strengthened by bringing needed focus on advanced planning for mass casualty events."

This guide provides information on what communities could likely 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; and illustrative examples of how certain health systems, communities and states have approached certain issues as part of their MCE-related planning efforts. The planning guide concludes with a presentation of a case study of an influenza pandemic.

Providing Mass Medical Care with Scarce Resources: A Community Planning Guide is the product of a collaborative effort between AHRQ and the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and can be found online at Print copies will be available early next year.  To order a copy, contact the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

Editor's Note: AHRQ will be hosting a free Web conference entitled Public Health Preparedness: Providing Mass Medical Care with Scarce Resources—Strategies and Tools for Community Planners on November 29 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm EST. The conference, which will feature a panel of experts who will answer questions from the audience, will focus on strategies and tools necessary for effective MCE planning and preparedness. Please visit for information on how to register and participate in this Web conference.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1244 or (301) 427-1241.


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