Medical complications associated with earthquakes

Lancet. 2012 Feb 25;379(9817):748-57. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60887-8. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


Major earthquakes are some of the most devastating natural disasters. The epidemiology of earthquake-related injuries and mortality is unique for these disasters. Because earthquakes frequently affect populous urban areas with poor structural standards, they often result in high death rates and mass casualties with many traumatic injuries. These injuries are highly mechanical and often multisystem, requiring intensive curative medical and surgical care at a time when the local and regional medical response capacities have been at least partly disrupted. Many patients surviving blunt and penetrating trauma and crush injuries have subsequent complications that lead to additional morbidity and mortality. Here, we review and summarise earthquake-induced injuries and medical complications affecting major organ systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Earthquakes* / mortality
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*