Operation Unified Response: 3 phases of disaster care in Haiti

Oct 03, 2010

A pediatric medical response to a major disaster should focus on three consecutive missions: protection of life and limb, continuing care, and finally, humanitarian aid, according to research presented Sunday, Oct. 3, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

In January, within 24 hours of the worst earthquake in more than 200 years, the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Comfort was deployed to Haiti. With a staff of more than 800 physicians, nurses and ancillary staff, the ship was transformed into a full-fledged floating hospital treating over 931 critically injured patients, of whom 35 percent were children.

The operation was the largest and most rapid triage and treatment effort since the inception of hospital ships. As a result, the six-week experience "provided the framework from which future disaster responses can be based," said lead study author Shawn Safford, MD.

Children "represented a group that posed a significant challenge," during the disaster, said Dr. Safford. Most pediatric patients required orthopedic care including extremity injuries (72 percent) and (4 percent). On average, patients returned to the operating room up to eight times for wound care (debridement) and wash outs. Amputations reflected 6.5 percent of cases, with 40 percent arriving with limbs already amputated. Eight babies were born on the ship, including two . Pediatric admissions surged during the first five days, with an average of 21.3 per day, and then decreased to 5.2 per day.

As a result of the data compiled during the Operation Unified Response - the largest collection of information, to date, on the pediatric surgical care of children in an earthquake disaster - researchers recommend a three-phase response to disaster medicine that has not been previously described. The first phase focuses on triaging patients who require life- and limb-saving care. The second phase involves caring for patients who were able to survive the first days without medical care. At this juncture, plastic and general surgeons can aid in the management of complex wounds and attempting limb salvage. Finally, phase three represents the transition from a disaster response to a humanitarian response, whereby all medical specialties and personnel can help to develop current and future health care for the population.

Explore further: New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Provided by American Academy of Pediatrics

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Personal disaster preparedness

Jan 22, 2009

A recent survey by Medical College of Wisconsin researchers of over 1,800 patients seen in the Froedtert Hospital Emergency Department revealed that Metro Milwaukee residents may not personally be as well prepared for disasters ...

Health care volunteers and disasters: First, be prepared

Feb 24, 2010

A surge in volunteers following a major disaster can overwhelm a response system, and without overall coordination, can actually make a situation worse instead of better .The outpouring of medical volunteers who responded ...

Statewide program to improve emergency care for children

Aug 14, 2009

An initiative is underway to improve emergency medical care for Illinois' youngest patients. Loyola University Health System (LUHS), in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health and other area hospitals, ...

Extremity war injuries: More research is needed

Jan 04, 2010

The fourth annual Extremity War Injuries Symposium was held in Washington, D.C., last January to bring together military and civilian orthopaedic surgeons, researchers, experts from governmental agencies, and others to discuss ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...