Pediatric issues in disaster management, Part 3: Special healthcare needs patients and mental health issues


  • Sharon E. Mace, MD
  • Ghazala Sharieff, MD
  • Andrew Bern, MD
  • Lee Benjamin, MD
  • Dave Burbulys, MD
  • Ramon Johnson, MD
  • Merritt Schreiber, PhD



disaster, pediatric disasters, pediatrics, children and infants


Although children and infants are likely to be victims in a disaster and are more vulnerable in a disaster than adults, disaster planning and management has often overlooked the specific needs of pediatric patients. We discuss key components of disaster planning and management for pediatric patients including emergency medical services, hospital/facility issues, evacuation centers, family separation/reunification, children with special healthcare needs, mental health issues, and overcrowding/ surge capacity. Specific policy recommendations and an appendix with detailed practical information and algorithms are included.The first part of this three part series on pediatric issues in disaster management addresses the emergency medical system from the field to the hospital and surge capacity including the impact of crowding. The second part addresses the appropriate set up and functioning of evacuation centers and family separation and reunification.The third part deals with special patient populations: the special healthcare needs patient and mental health issues.

Author Biographies

Sharon E. Mace, MD

Professor of Medicine, Emergency Department, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Ghazala Sharieff, MD

Clinical Professor, Emergency Department, University of California, San Diego, California; Rady Children’s Hospital, Emergency Department, San Diego, California.

Andrew Bern, MD

Attending Physician, Emergency Department, Delray Medical Center, Delray, Florida.

Lee Benjamin, MD

Assistant Professor, Emergency Department, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Dave Burbulys, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Emergency Department, Harbor- UCLA Medical Center, Torrence, California.

Ramon Johnson, MD

Attending Physician, Emergency Department, Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center, Mission Viejo, California.

Merritt Schreiber, PhD

Associate Research Psychologist, UCLA – Center for Public Health and Disasters, Los Angeles, California.


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How to Cite

Mace, MD, S. E., G. Sharieff, MD, A. Bern, MD, L. Benjamin, MD, D. Burbulys, MD, R. Johnson, MD, and M. Schreiber, PhD. “Pediatric Issues in Disaster Management, Part 3: Special Healthcare Needs Patients and Mental Health Issues”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 5, no. 5, Sept. 2010, pp. 261-74, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2010.0032.

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