Information Gaps and Mass Casualty Incidents | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Information Gaps and Mass Casualty Incidents

April 15, 2015
by Kayt Sukel
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

A mass casualty incident (MCI) is defined as "a destructive event that causes so many casualties that extraordinary mobilization of medical services is necessary."  Common MCIs include fires, highway pile-ups and mass shootings.  Certainly, hospital emergency departments plan for such extraordinary mobilizations--and put workflows in place to quickly assess and treat patients when they occur.  But as hospitals rely more on information technology systems for clinical documentation and clinical decision support, it's clear that there's more to dealing with mass casualty incidents than just updated triage strategies.  Information management must also be carefully considered.

In yesterday's compelling HIMSS15 E-Session, Managing Patient Information During a Mass Casualty Incident, Jonathan Teich, Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Elsevier, and Adam Landman, Chief Medical Information Officer for Health Information Innovation and Integration and an attending emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, demonstrated just how important information systems can be to the successful management of an MCI. 

Dr. Teich set the stage by saying that we have a good understanding of the different MCIs that could occur.  "There really are a finite number of these situations.  So there some be some common themes we can find in terms of information management," he said.  "It should be possible to anticipate what those themes might be."

And understanding those themes is important to avoiding errors, which can happen more easily when processes are accelerated and resources stretched thin.

Dr.  Landman highlighted the vital role of information systems by discussing what happened in Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital Emergency Room after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.  The emergency room was already over-capacity when the call came about the bombings.  But they then received 39 survivors--16 of those were admitted and 9 required surgery.

"In an after-action review of the event, it became clear that one of our main challenges was our information systems," said Landman.

He and his colleagues learned that, in the confusion of that day, they had limited awareness of patient locations, difficulty distinguishing unidentified patients, and medical care was not documented in real-time.  And Landman discussed both the short-term and long-term ways to deal with those information gaps in the future. 

In conclusion, Landman and Teich urged emergency departments to look closely at their own information systems--and how they are used during normal operations and where they may fall short during MCIs. It is, they argued, the only way to be "fully prepared" for the successful management of mass casualty incidents.

Topics

News

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.

AMIA Warns of Tax Bill’s Impact on Graduate School Programs in Informatics

Provisions in the Republican tax bill that would count graduate student tuition waivers as taxable income would have detrimental impacts on the viability of fields such as informatics, according to the American Medical Informatics Association.

Appalachia Project to Study Relationship Between Increased Broadband Access, Improved Cancer Care

The Federal Communications Commission and the National Cancer Institute have joined forces to focus on how increasing broadband access and adoption in rural areas can improve the lives of rural cancer patients.

Survey: By 2019, 60% of Medicare Revenues will be Tied to Risk

Medical groups and health systems that are members of AMGA (the American Medical Group Association) expect that nearly 60 percent of their revenues from Medicare will be from risk-based products by 2019, according to the results from a recent survey.