Terror attack would overwhelm L.A., D.C. hospitals, expert says – Los Angeles Times


Terror attack would overwhelm L.A., D.C. hospitals, expert says – Los Angeles Times


“It is irrational to believe that an emergency system that is already overwhelmed by the day-to-day volume of acutely ill patients would be able to expand its capacity on short notice,” said Dr. Roger J. Lewis, a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

All the ED’s I’m aware  of work at or above capacity daily.  There’s room for maybe a 6 hour surge, but that’s only if most of the patients brought in the surge go home from the ED.  I don’t want to think about pandemic flu, let alone some weaponized bug.


  1. I beg to differ:

    “For several reasons, the situation in Houston was “logistically and politically” conducive to receiving and treating large numbers of evacuees. Most importantly, the area was not affected by Hurricane katrina, leaving its extensive health care system intact and ready to respond. A wide range of academic, governmental, and private organizations came together to make and implement plans for the katrina Clinic. A key first step was the creation of a unified command and control system to direct and coordinate services—a public health infrastructure equivalent to that of a small town was created almost literally overnight.

    The Clinic was built in a 100,000-square-foot space in the Reliant Arena. Within 12 hours — aided by the use of existing exhibit hall materials — workers had created a facility including 65 examination rooms. Over the next 2 weeks, the Katrina Clinic saw more than 11,000 of the estimated 27,000 evacuees seeking shelter in the Complex. Clinic staff wrote nearly 17,000 prescriptions, performed nearly 600 x-rays and other radiologic studies, and gave more than 6,000 vaccinations.

  2. And, how much of that happened in an ED? None. There was a terrific surge, and a separate temporary facility was assembled, and they did a good job.

    It also highlights that current ED’s are working on the edge now, and ED’s DON’T have a real surge capacity.

    Thanks for helping me prove my point.

  3. Most disaster management doesn’t and shouldn’t occur in the EDs themselves. An off-site triage area, a strong local command center, and an integrated collaborative local response are necessities.

    You should read this article, it’s illuminating.

    “• Less than 10% of the challenges faced during a disaster are medical.

    • Only 10% of persons who arrive at a hospital or shelter following a disaster are in need of acute medical attention.

    • Only 10% of those presenting to a shelter clinic or a hospital following a disaster have a potentially life-threatening condition.”