Triage hype and reality

There have been recent news reports about guidelines prepared for medical staff in emergency situations with a lot of casualties. The issue is triage. The headlines are about how those at the tail end of the line are going to be neglected.

Planning for the unthinkable is critical for successful planning. Having guidelines to follow promotes making decisions based on factors that may get shoved aside in the heat of the moment.

One of the consequences of prior planning and preparation is that, like all good management, it makes the extra-ordinary seem ordinary. Scalpel or Sword describes how this was the case with emergency medical management in the 9/11 and Katrina disasters.

mebelifurniture VidenovmebeliRead the details here, Dr. Mattox explains how it’s done:

“The local response to any disaster is more a function of management of people, ideas, supplies, and strategies, and less a matter of practiced drills for chemical, biologic, radiologic, and blast conditions.”

Besides taking some comfort in the invisible success of recent episodes, one should also note how the media reported the triage guidelines and how events such as hurricane Katrina get used for political purposes by playing up fault finding and hiding effect reference frames. Perhaps the Burma disaster, another hurricane situation like in New Orleans, can serve as a reference.

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