The September 11, 2001, World Trade Center (WTC) attack was a disaster of epic proportion in New York City, NY. It was unprecedented in terms of the number of people who were killed in the bombings, as well as in terms of the volume of patients received at local (New York City) hospitals. The strain on local emergency medical services, hospitals, and the citywide trauma system is still felt today as the hospitals, physicians, and agencies involved struggle to train for similar events that may occur in the future, cope with the psychological and social aftermath, and even pay for the response to the bombing. The objective of this review of the data was to determine the major causes of morbidity (ie, hospital visits) during the hours immediately after the September 11, 2001, WTC attack, as well as to detail the costs involved in the medical response to a disaster of this scale and to identify some lessons learned with respect to the hospital’s response to an event of this magnitude.
Review of records and cost data submitted by Saint Vincent’s Hospital, Manhattan, NY, to the state of New York and federal sources for financial relief from the September 11, 2001, WTC attack.
Saint Vincent’s Hospital is an academic medical center of New York Medical College and a New York City–designated level I trauma center.
All medical records for the patients registered at Saint Vincent’s Hospital on September 11, 2001, after 8:50 AM were reviewed.
The major cause of morbidity for the September 11, 2001, patients was smoke inhalation (30.0%); followed closely by chemical conjunctivitis and corneal abrasions (16%); lacerations, abrasions, and soft-tissue injuries (15.5%); isolated orthopedic complaints (12%); and psychiatric complaints (10%). Multiple-trauma patients were 3% of the patients seen. There were 5 fatalities at Saint Vincent’s Hospital.
The WTC disaster was a source of major morbidity and mortality to the people of New York City. The possibility that Saint Vincent’s will again serve in that role is in the forefront of the minds of everyone involved in updating our contingency plan.