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How prepared are nation's hospitals?
The assessment of hospital preparedness varies depending on the type of disaster, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. The 2008 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which included 294 hospitals, found that:
Almost all hospitals (more than 93%) had emergency response plans to address chemical accidents or attacks, natural disasters, epidemics or pandemics, and biological accidents or attacks.
About 80% of hospitals had plans that covered nuclear or radiological accidents or attacks or explosive or incendiary accidents or attacks.
About one in 10 hospitals did not have an internal disaster drill in the last year. Half conducted more than one internal drill.
The median number of N95 masks per hospital was 432, and the median number of personal protective suits with powered air-purifying respirators per hospital was 10.
Less than a third of hospitals (30.6%) addressed mass medication distribution to their personnel in their drills, and only about a third (32.5%) addressed mass vaccination.
Hospitals were more likely to address general disaster scenarios in their drills than pandemics (58.5%) or chemical accidents or attacks (55.6%).
Source: National Health Statistics Reports: Hospital Preparedness for Emergency Response: United States, 2008. March 24, 2011. Available at http://bit.ly/rs3jdJ