Perry RW, Lindell MK
As terrorists attacks increase in frequency, hospital disaster plans need to be scrutinized to ensure that they take into account issues unique to weapons of mass destruction. This paper reports a review of the literature addressing hospital experiences with such incidents and the planning lessons thus learned. Construction of hospital disaster plans is examined as an ongoing process guided by the disaster planning committee. Hospitals are conceived as one of the components of a larger community disaster planning efforts, with specific attention devoted to defining important linkages among response organizations. This includes the public health authorities, political authorities, prehospital care agencies, and emergency management agencies. A review is completed of six special elements of weapons of mass destruction incidents that should be addressed in hospital disaster plans: incident command, hospital security, patient surge, decontamination, mental health consequences, and communications. The paper closes with a discussion of the importance of training and exercises in maintaining and improving the disaster plan.