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Commentary
August 5, 2009

Enhancing Hospital Surge Capacity for Mass Casualty Events

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: National Center for Trauma & Emergency Medicine Research, The Gertner Institute for Health Policy & Epidemiology, Tel-Hashomer, Israel and Disaster Medicine Department, School of Public Health, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel (Dr Peleg); and the Department of Emergency Medicine, Emory School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Kellermann).

JAMA. 2009;302(5):565-567. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1119

Two days after the 2008 presidential election, the Government Accountability Office identified 13 “urgent issues” President-elect Obama and the 111th Congress should address during the transition period and first year of the new administration. One of the issues, preparing for large-scale health emergencies, is particularly relevant to the US health care system. The Government Accountability Office posted on its Web site the following statement:

Many states have used the [US Department of Health and Human Services] hospital preparedness funds in their efforts to improve the surge capacity of the nation's health care systems . . . Federal agencies, however, continue to face challenges in working with one another and with state and local governments, private organizations, and international partners to [among other things] . . . marshal the resources required for an effective public health response, such as developing health system surge capacity to handle large numbers of casualties.1

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