There are different categories of weapons of mass effect—chemicals, biological pathogens and toxins, radioactive materials, nuclear devices, and nonconventional high-yield explosives. Out of these, biological weapons are used in a terrorism type called bioterrorism. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there are the six focus areas for preparedness and response to bioterrorism and other outbreaks that are detrimental to public health.
On the basis of your understanding of the topic of bioterrorism and our preparedness to handle the health services requirement during any such attack, answer the following questions:
- Which of the categories of weapons of mass effect is the healthcare industry most prepared to deal with? Why? Provide a factual basis for choosing the particular category of weapons. Which of these categories is the healthcare industry least prepared to deal with? Why?
- What are the six focus areas, for preparedness and response to bioterrorism and other outbreaks, covered in your course textbook? Are these focus areas still relevant? Why or why not?
- Research and explain the meaning of each focus area. Which focus area is the most important and why?
- Which focus area would be the most challenging? And why?
- Why is communication an important variable within calming fears and suppressing rumors?
Preparing for a bioterrorist attack presents unique challenges in the United States. There are no real wide-scale events you can study to prepare for a bioterrorist attack. In the absence of this experiential knowledge, training exercises are often used. Answer the following questions regarding the training exercises for preparation for bioterrorist attack:
- Why are training exercises important in planning for a bioterrorist attack? How would you use training exercises to help prepare the staff of a hospital from a bioterrorist attack?
- What are the benefits of real-life training scenarios involving multiple agencies?
- Using the Internet, research on Amtrak’s “Operation Rail Safe” program. Would hospitals and medical centers benefit from a program of this nature to aid in their preparation?
Triage is a process developed by the military to cope with large number of victims of combat or disaster situations. In many disaster situations, it becomes necessary to triage patients in order to assess their medical needs and decide how to allocate the resources and staff available to treat the incoming patients. Using the Internet, research on nerve agent “sarin” and answer the following questions in regard to the above process:
- What criteria would you use in the emergency room to triage patients with potential exposure to the nerve agent sarin?
- How would you classify the incoming patients when triaging them? Why?
You are the chief executive officer (CEO) of a major hospital. A bioterrorist attack just occurred in your city. The ICS has been activated. Despite the infusion of this additional money provided by the government after the event of September 11, 2001, to the healthcare industry, in an effort to prepare the industry for a possible bioterrorist attack, some people feel that the healthcare industry in US is still unprepared for a bioterrorist attack. As a CEO, you need to assess the situation and prepare your hospital to deal with the situation.
Answer the following questions keeping in mind the above information:
- Why is the use of an ICS in a hospital important when dealing with a bioterrorist attack? What are the most challenging issues associated with using an ICS in a hospital? Why?
- As a healthcare administrator, how would you allocate money and why? How prepared do you think the healthcare industry is to handle a bioterrorist attack? Why or why not?