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From The CriticsReviewer: David J. Dries, MD (University of Minnesota Medical School)
Description: This is an overview of issues surrounding hospital preparation for mass casualty events, particularly those associated with biological weapons.
Purpose: Using biological weapons of terrorism as an example, principles of preparation for mass casualty situations are reviewed.
Audience: Emergency medicine physicians, administrators, and leadership of safety net hospitals are an appropriate audience for this work produced by an international group originating from the United States and China.
Features: After an excellent overview of common hospital failings in mass casualty drills and emergencies, the book reviews the history of biological weapons with components of EMS and hospital response. Emphasis is placed on prehospital, emergency department, operating room, and simulation techniques to prepare a core strategy. A detailed review of the SARS experience in Hong Kong provides an example of hospital preparedness challenges associated with a highly contagious, yet sometimes ill-defined infectious threat. The nine appendixes provide sample emergency plans, an overview of standards of care, and experiences in development of surge hospital capacity. Chapters are clearly written and tables, black-and-white line drawings, and black-and-white photographs are occasionally used. The illustrations are of good pedagogic and adequate reproduction quality. Chapters include a reference list combining websites and government agency documents with original and secondary medical literature. References date to within two to three years of publication. The table of contents lists chapter title and authorship while a concluding subject index of eight pages provides adequate access to content.
Assessment: This is an excellent introduction to the nontraditional thought process required to prepare for biologic mass casualty incidents. A strong emergency medicine perspective is used. Additional detail regarding reconfiguration of other hospital resources, particularly critical care, would be helpful. By blending a balance of experienced providers and scholars, the book provides an effective introduction to an important topic.