A strategy for disaster preparedness in obstetrics
Keywords:obstetric disaster planning, preexisting regional coalitions, COVID-19
Background: Many hospital units, including obstetric (OB) units, were unprepared when the novel coronavirus began sweeping through communities. National and international bodies, including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, directed enormous efforts to present the latest evidence-based practices to healthcare institutions and communities. The first hospitals that were affected in China and the United States (US) did heroic work in assisting their colleagues with best practices they had acquired. Despite these resources, many US hospitals struggled with how to best incorporate and implement this new information into disaster plans, and many protocol changes had to be established de novo. In general, disaster planning for OB units lagged behind other disaster planning performed by specialties such as emergency medicine, trauma, and pediatrics.
Participants: Fortunately, two pre-existing collaborative disaster groups, the OB Disaster Planning Workgroup and the Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Management, were able to rapidly deploy during the pandemic due to their pre-established networks and shared goals.
Main outcome: These groups were able to share best practices, identify and address knowledge gaps, and disseminate information on a broad scale. The case will be made that the OB community needs to establish more such regional and national disaster committees that meet year-round. This will ensure that in times of urgency, these groups can increase the cadence of their meetings, and thus rapidly disperse time-sensitive policies and procedures for OB units nationwide.
Conclusion: Given the unique patient population, it is imperative that OB units establish regional coalitions to facilitate a coordinated response to local and national disasters.
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