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U.S. Health System Unprepared for Disaster

October 31, 2007
by root
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A PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis of emergency preparedness finds U.S. healthcare response is uncoordinated, uninformed, and underfunded, concludes a report by the New York-based company's Health Research Institute on the state of the nation's health system preparedness for disaster.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, despite progress since Sept. 11 and nearly $8 billion in federal funding for emergency preparedness activities, the medical response to a natural or manmade disaster or an act of terror remains sporadic and disconnected.

Major findings include:

*At least 11 U.S. cities lack a sufficient number of beds to handle a disaster surge.

*Only four in 10 health professionals believe that local hospitals are very well prepared to deal with disaster casualties.

*More than 40 percent of health professionals lack confidence in their ability to transfer patients to non-healthcare facilities such as a stadium or schools, and 25 percent lack confidence in their ability to transfer patients to other health-related facilities such as skilled nursing facilities, community clinics or regional hospitals.

The report includes recommendations to close the seams of preparedness as well as nine critical areas of planning that need to be addressed. PricewaterhouseCoopers' recommendations and a full copy of the report are available at www.pwc.com/hri.

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