AHRQ issues guide for emergency dispensing

A new planning guide funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is designed to help communities nationwide make sure that all Americans have needed drugs and vaccines in the event of a natural epidemic or bioterrorist attack.

Developed by a team of researchers in the department of public health at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital led by Nathaniel Hupert, MD, MPH, the guide complements the Strategic National Stockpile guidebook prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a chapter on dispensing medications and vaccines.

The new guide, Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health Preparedness, is designed to help state, county, and local officials meet federal requirements for a public health emergency.

The guide contains these features:

• Provides a framework for understanding the components of epidemic outbreak response (surveillance, stockpiling, distribution, dispensing, and follow-up care) and the planning and conduct of dispensing operations using specially designated dispensing clinics.

• Applies these concepts to develop model pill-dispensing and vaccination clinics run on the Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak Model (BERM), a computer staffing model also developed by Hupert and his colleagues at Weill Cornell under contract to AHRQ that can be customized to meet local community needs, which discusses implementation of a command and control framework for dispensing clinics based on the CDC’s National Incident Management System.

The guide can be found at www.ahrq.gov/research/cbmprophyl/cbmpro.htm. Printed copies are available by contacting AHRQ’s Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or by sending an e-mail to ahrqpubs@ahrq.gov.