Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Prehospital and Disaster Medicine


Volume 28, Issue 2

Inclusive Pages



Disaster Planning; Hospitals; Patient Care Management; Transportation of Patients


Introduction: The evacuation of a health care facility is a complex undertaking, especially if done in an immediate fashion, ie, within minutes. Patient factors, such as continuous medical care needs, mobility, and comprehension, will affect the efficiency of the evacuation and translate into evacuation resource needs. Prior evacuation resource estimates are 30 years old.

Methods: Utilizing a cross-sectional survey of charge nurses of the clinical units in an urban, academic, adult trauma health care facility (HCF), the evacuation needs of hospitalized patients were assessed periodically over a two-year period.

Results: Survey data were collected on 2,050 patients. Units with patients having low continuous medical care needs during an emergency evacuation were the postpartum, psychiatry, rehabilitation medicine, surgical, and preoperative anesthesia care units, the Emergency Department, and Labor and Delivery Department (with the exception of patients in Stage II labor). Units with patients having high continuous medical care needs during an evacuation included the neonatal and adult intensive care units, special procedures unit, and operating and post-anesthesia care units. With the exception of the neonate group, 908 (47%) of the patients would be able to walk out of the facility, 492 (25.5%) would require a wheelchair, and 530 (27.5%) would require a stretcher to exit the HCF. A total of 1,639 patients (84.9%) were deemed able to comprehend the need to evacuate and to follow directions; the remainder were sedated, blind, or deaf. The charge nurses also determined that 17 (6.9%) of the 248 adult intensive care unit patients were too ill to survive an evacuation, and that in 10 (16.4%) of the 61 ongoing surgery cases, stopping the case was not considered to be safe.

Conclusion: Heath care facilities can utilize the results of this study to model their anticipated resource requirements for an emergency evacuation. This will permit the Incident Management Team to mobilize the necessary resources both within the facility and the community to provide for the safest evacuation of patients.


Published version is available at Copyright © 2013 Cambridge University Press.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access