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September 2015

Medicine in a Disaster Area: Lessons From the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal

Author Affiliations
  • 1Israel Defense Forces Field Hospital, Medical Corps, Surgeon General's Headquarters, Tel Hashomer, Israel
  • 2Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
  • 3Soroka Medical Center, Beer-Sheba, Israel
  • 4Hebrew University, Faculty of Medicine, Military Program, Jerusalem, Israel
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(9):1437-1438. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3985

In April 2015, a 7.8-level earthquake struck Nepal, with an epicenter 50 miles northwest of the capital city of Kathmandu. As of June 15, 2015, there have been approximately 8800 deaths and over 23 000 injured. The devastating earthquake galvanized rapid response worldwide, including deployment of international humanitarian teams.

The Israel Defense Force mobilized a field hospital as requested by the Nepalese government. The field hospital was deployed as a stand-alone facility 82 hours after the earthquake, and it covered around 0.6 acres next to the Birendra Military Hospital in Kathmandu (Figure). Our medical team of 126 personnel—including 45 physicians and 29 nurses—staffed an emergency department, admission ward (adult and pediatric), 2 operating rooms, an obstetrics and gynecology department including labor chairs, an 8-bed intensive care unit, imaging facility, laboratory unit, and medical informatics. The hospital provided level 3 services classified by the World Health Organization as“inpatient referral care, with complex inpatient referral surgical care including intensive care capacity.”1 During our 11 days of operation, we treated 1668 patients, performed 85 operations, and delivered 8 babies. Previously, our medical unit had responded to mass casualty disasters including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines in 2013.

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