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A Year After Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned at One Coastal Trauma Center

Jack Sariego, MD
Arch Surg. 2007;142(2):203-205. doi:10.1001/archsurg.142.2.203.
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Hurricane Katrina—at one point a category 5 hurricane—struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, and was the largest natural disaster in American history.1 It resulted in extensive physical damage, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes, displacing nearly a million people, and partially or completely incapacitating virtually every hospital in its path.2 This included most of the trauma centers throughout Mississippi and Louisiana. Because trauma centers are by their nature best equipped to manage mass casualties resulting from natural and/or other disasters,3 the loss of many of these centers in the immediate posthurricane period adversely impacted the delivery of patient care. Several trauma centers, however, were able to resume functioning shortly after the storm, and a few were able to continue operating even during the hurricane. One such trauma center was Ocean Springs Hospital (OSH) in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, a 126-bed level III trauma center very close to the center of “ground zero.” An evaluation and review of the operations at that hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina uncovers several areas in which further work needs to be done to maximize the use of resources and health care delivery in future disasters.

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