Acta Orthopaedica et Traumatologica Turcica
Invited Reviews

Medical care following earthquakes: Clinical, organizational, and logistic challenges


Humanitarian and Disaster Response Center, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel

AOTT 2023; 57: 296-300
DOI: 10.5152/j.aott.2023.23184
Read: 130 Downloads: 75 Published: 26 December 2023

The orthopedic load following earthquakes exceeds that caused by any other disaster. This is due to the large number of musculoskeletal injuries due to falling debris, coupled with the widespread damage to general and medical infrastructure, causing a huge imbalance between surgical needs and the ability to address these needs, necessitating a switch in mindset and operational mode. Clinically, the operational mode will be that of damage control surgery, considering “life before limb” with only lifesaving and limb-saving procedures being performed during the acute phase of the event. Open wounds are treated by thorough debridement, and fixation is performed using plaster casts or external fixation. Open reduction and internal fixation of closed fractures will be deferred until the surge subsides or the patient reaches a fully functional medical facility. Organizational and logistic needs will be addressed considering the “4 S’s”: space, staff, supplies and system. Geographical changes will be necessary in the hospital, shifting activities from damaged structures to safe ones or to open spaces. Field hospitals may be erected on the hospital grounds or on an independent site. Medical staff will be overloaded, especially traumatologists, orthopedic and plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and surgical nurses. This can be addressed by the recruitment of supplementary personnel, task shifting, and on-site training. Supplies will be augmented from nonfunctional hospitals and other external sources, and the hospital system will switch to surge mode with appropriate work shifts and emergency standard operation procedures. All this necessitates preplanning, preparing, and drilling in order to mitigate the effects of this disastrous event

Cite this article as: Bar-On E. Medical care following earthquakes: Clinical, organizational, and logistic challenges. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc., 2023;57(6):296-300.

ISSN 1017-995X EISSN 2589-1294