Chronic disease and related conditions at emergency treatment facilities in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2008 Mar;2(1):27-32. doi: 10.1097/DMP.0b013e31816452f0.


Background: Disaster preparations usually focus on preventing injury and infectious disease. However, people with chronic disease and related conditions (CDRCs), including obstetric/gynecological conditions, may be vulnerable to disruptions caused by disasters.

Methods: We used surveillance data collected after Hurricane Katrina to characterize the burden of visits for CDRCs at emergency treatment facilities (eg, hospitals, disaster medical assistance teams, military aid stations). In 6 parishes in and around New Orleans, health care providers at 29 emergency treatment facilities completed a standardized questionnaire for injury and illness surveillance from September 8 through October 22, 2005.

Results: Of 21,673 health care visits, 58.0% were for illness (24.3% CDRCs, 75.7% non-CDRCs), 29.1% for injury, 7.2% for medication refills, and 5.7% for routine or follow-up care. The proportion of visits for CDRCs increased with age. Among men presenting with CDRCs, the most common illnesses were cardiovascular disease (36.8%), chronic lower-respiratory disease (12.3%), and diabetes/glucose abnormalities (7.7%). Among women presenting with CDRCs, the most common were cardiovascular disease (29.2%), obstetric/gynecological conditions (18.2%), and chronic lower-respiratory disease (12.0%). Subsequent hospitalization occurred among 28.7% of people presenting with CDRCs versus 10.9% of those with non-CDRCs and 3.8% of those with injury.

Conclusions: Our data illustrate the importance of including CDRCs as a part of emergency response planning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Louisiana / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology