Background: Hospitals would play a critical role in a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) event. The purpose of this study is to assess preparedness for mass casualty events in short-term and long-term hospitals in Kentucky.
Methods: All short-term and long-term hospitals in Kentucky were surveyed using an instrument based on the Mass Casualty Disaster Plan Checklist and a brief supplemental bioterrorism preparedness questionnaire based on a checklist developed for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Results: Responses were received from 116 of the 118 (98%) hospitals surveyed. Hospitals reported surge capacity equal to 27% of licensed beds, and virtually all respondents were engaged in planning for weapons of mass destruction events. However, advanced planning and preparation were less common. Large regional differences were observed, especially in the area of pharmaceutical planning. Preparedness planning in general and pharmaceutical management planning in particular were more advanced in counties participating in the Metropolitan Medical Response System Program (MMRS).
Conclusions: Hospital mass casualty preparedness efforts were in an early stage of development at the time of this survey, and some critical capabilities, such as isolation, decontamination, and syndromic surveillance were clearly underdeveloped. Preparedness planning was more advanced among hospitals located in MMRS counties.