Successful management of a pandemic or disaster requires implementation of preexisting plans to minimize loss of life and maintain control. Managing the expected surges in intensive care capacity requires strategic planning from a systems perspective and includes focused intensive care abilities and requirements as well as all individuals and organizations involved in hospital and regional planning. The suggestions in this article are important for all involved in a large-scale disaster or pandemic, including front-line clinicians, hospital administrators, and public health or government officials. Specifically, this article focuses on surge logistics—those elements that provide the capability to deliver mass critical care.
The Surge Capacity topic panel developed 23 key questions focused on the following domains: systems issues; equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals; staffing; and informatics. Literature searches were conducted to identify studies upon which evidence-based recommendations could be made. The results were reviewed for relevance to the topic, and the articles were screened by two topic editors for placement within one of the surge domains noted previously. Most reports were small scale, were observational, or used flawed modeling; hence, the level of evidence on which to base recommendations was poor and did not permit the development of evidence-based recommendations. The Surge Capacity topic panel subsequently followed the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) Guidelines Oversight Committee’s methodology to develop suggestion based on expert opinion using a modified Delphi process.
This article presents 22 suggestions pertaining to surge capacity mass critical care, including requirements for equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals; staff preparation and organization; methods of mitigating overwhelming patient loads; the role of deployable critical care services; and the use of transportation assets to support the surge response.
Critical care response to a disaster relies on careful planning for staff and resource augmentation and involves many agencies. Maximizing the use of regional resources, including staff, equipment, and supplies, extends critical care capabilities. Regional coalitions should be established to facilitate agreements, outline operational plans, and coordinate hospital efforts to achieve predetermined goals. Specialized physician oversight is necessary and if not available on site, may be provided through remote consultation. Triage by experienced providers, reverse triage, and service deescalation may be used to minimize ICU resource consumption. During a temporary loss of infrastructure or overwhelmed hospital resources, deployable critical care services should be considered.