Are regional hospital pharmacies prepared for public health emergencies?

Research paper by Edbert B EB Hsu, Julie A JA Casani, Al A Romanosky, Michael G MG Millin, Christa M CM Singleton, John J Donohue, E Robert ER Feroli, Melvin M Rubin, Italo I Subbarao, Dianne M DM Whyne, Thomas D TD Snodgrass, Gabor D GD Kelen

Indexed on: 27 Sep '06Published on: 27 Sep '06Published in: Biosecurity and bioterrorism : biodefense strategy, practice, and science


In the event of a major chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE) attack or a natural disaster, large quantities of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies may be required with little or no warning. Pharmaceutical surge capacity for immediate response, before Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) supplies become available, remains a significant gap in emergency preparedness. To date, limited attempts have been made to assess collective regional hospital pharmaceutical response capabilities. In this project, we characterized the level of hospital pharmaceutical response preparedness in a major metropolitan region.The Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) convened a collaborative partnership to assess hospital pharmaceutical response capabilities. A survey was developed to characterize pharmaceutical response preparedness to CBRNE threats.All 22 acute care hospitals in the Maryland region were sent pharmaceutical response surveys, and responses were received from 86% (19/22). Within the past year, 84% (16/19) of hospitals had implemented an exercise with pharmacy participation. More than half of the hospitals expect to receive assistance from the SNS in 48 hours or less. Seventy-four percent (14/19) of the hospitals reported an additional dedicated reserve supply for biological events, 74% (14/19) for chemical events, and 58% (11/19) for radiological events.Many hospitals in this metropolitan region have taken important steps toward enhancing pharmaceutical preparedness. However, hospitals generally remain underprepared for CBRNE threats and collectively have limited supplies of antibiotics to provide prophylaxis or treatment for hospital staff, their families, and patients in the event of a significant biological incident.