Impact of natural disaster combined with nuclear power plant accidents on local medical services: a case study of Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2014 Dec;8(6):471-6. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2014.112. Epub 2014 Nov 27.


Objective: To elucidate the impacts of nuclear plant accidents on neighboring medical centers, we investigated the operations of our hospital within the first 10 days of the Great East Japan Earthquake followed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

Methods: Data were extracted from medical records and hospital administrative records covering 11 to 20 March 2011. Factual information on the disaster was obtained from public access media.

Results: A total of 622 outpatients and 241 inpatients were treated. Outpatients included 43 injured, 6 with cardiopulmonary arrest, and 573 with chronic diseases. Among the 241 inpatients, 5 died, 137 were discharged, and the other 99 were transferred to other hospitals. No communication methods or medical or food supplies were available for 4 days after the earthquake. Hospital directors allowed employees to leave the hospital on day 4. All 39 temporary workers were evacuated immediately, and 71 of 239 full-time employees remained. These employees handled extra tasks besides patient care and patient transfer to other hospitals. Committed effective doses indicating the magnitude of health risks due to an intake of radioactive cesium into the human body were found to be minimal according to internal radiation exposure screening carried out from July to August 2011.

Conclusions: After the disaster, hospitals located within the evacuation zone of a 30-km radius of the nuclear power plant were isolated. Maintenance of the health care system in such an event becomes difficult.

Keywords: nuclear power plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Community Health Services*
  • Disaster Planning
  • Earthquakes*
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident*
  • Hospitals, General*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Patient Transfer / statistics & numerical data
  • Personnel, Hospital
  • Radiation Monitoring