Review Article

Patients with Access and Functional Needs in a Disaster

Authors: Sharon E. Mace, MD, Constance J. Doyle, MD


Individuals with special healthcare needs have some of the highest morbidity and mortality rates during disasters. Efforts to triage, transport, shelter, or treat vulnerable populations often fail to take into consideration disabilities and social situations, including caregiver availability. Communication, medical care, independence, supervision, and transportation needs should be considered in emergency preparedness planning. Inconsistencies with the definitions and scope of individuals with special healthcare needs exist. The problems and complexity of vulnerable populations, as well as potential solutions are considered to assist planners and disaster responders in the preplanning, mitigation, treatment, and recovery of these individuals.


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