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Original Investigation
June 2016

Reconsidering the Resources Needed for Multiple Casualty EventsLessons Learned From the Crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, San Francisco
JAMA Surg. 2016;151(6):512-517. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.5107

Importance  To date, a substantial portion of multiple casualty incident literature has focused exclusively on prehospital and emergency department resources needed for optimal disaster response. Thus, inpatient resources required to care for individuals injured in multiple casualty events are not well described.

Objective  To highlight the resources beyond initial emergency department triage needed for multiple casualty events, using one of the largest commercial aviation disasters in modern US history as a case study.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Prospective case series of injured individuals treated at an urban level I trauma center following the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 on July 6, 2013. This analysis was conducted between June 1, 2014, and December 1, 2015.

Exposure  Commercial jetliner crash.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Medical records, imaging data, nursing overtime, blood bank records, and trauma registry data were analyzed. Disaster logs, patient injuries, and blood product data were prospectively collected during the incident.

Results  Among 307 people aboard the flight, 192 were injured; 63 of the injured patients were initially evaluated at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (the highest number at any of the receiving medical facilities; age range, 4-74 years [23 were aged <17 years and 3 were aged >60 years]; median injury severity score of 19 admitted patients, 9 [range, 9-45]), including the highest number of critically injured patients (10 of 12). Despite the high impact of the crash, only 3 persons (<1%) died, including 1 in-hospital death. Among the 63 patients, 32 (50.8%) underwent a computed tomographic imaging study, with imaging of the abdomen and pelvis being the most common. Sixteen of the 32 patients undergoing computed tomography (50.0%) had a positive finding on at least 1 scan. Nineteen patients had major injuries and required admission, with 5 taken directly from the emergency department to the operating room. The most frequent injury was spinal fracture (13 patients). In the first 48 hours, 15 operations were performed and 117 total units of blood products were transfused. A total of 370 nursing overtime hours were required to treat the injured patients on the day of the event.

Conclusions and Relevance  Proper disaster preparedness requires attention to hospital-level needs beyond initial emergency department triage. The Asiana Airlines flight 214 crash highlights the need to plan for high use of advanced imaging, blood products, operating room availability, nursing resources, and management of inpatient hospital beds.