Objectives: To measure physical assets in Australasian hospitals required for the management of mass casualties as a result of terrorism or natural disasters.
Design and setting: A cross-sectional survey of Australian and New Zealand hospitals.
Participants: All emergency department directors of Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM)-accredited hospitals, as well as private and non-ACEM accredited emergency departments staffed by ACEM Fellows in metropolitan Sydney.
Main outcome measures: Numbers of operating theatres, intensive care unit (ICU) beds and x-ray machines; state of preparedness using benchmarks defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
Results: We found that 61%-82% of critically injured patients would not have immediate access to operative care, 34%-70% would have delayed access to an ICU bed, and 42% of the less critically injured would have delayed access to x-ray facilities.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that physical assets in Australasian public hospitals do not meet US hospital preparedness benchmarks for mass casualty incidents. We recommend national agreement on disaster preparedness benchmarks and periodic publication of hospital performance indicators to enhance disaster preparedness.