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May 8, 1981

Reducing Casualties in Nuclear War

JAMA. 1981;245(18):1819. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310430013008

To the Editor.—  A nuclear attack would certainly produce a disaster magnitudes greater than anything that has yet befallen this continent. Howard H. Hiatt, MD (1980;244:2314), has considered this possibility and has come to the conclusion that "treatment programs would be virtually useless" and that prevention of the possibility of nuclear war is the only solution. As desirable as prevention would be, a demand by physicians to politicians that the use of nuclear weapons be renounced would likely fall on deaf ears. There is another course of action that would be politically more acceptable—public education and the construction of shelters. The extent to which a civil defense program would reduce the number and degree of casualties in the case of a nuclear attack is supported by the data that Dr Hiatt cites.The casualty figures in the report by the Office of Technology Assessment were made with the assumption that