Improving hospital preparedness for radiological terrorism: perspectives from emergency department physicians and nurses

Steven M Becker, Sarah A Middleton
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 2008, 2 (3): 174-84

BACKGROUND: Hospital emergency department (ED) clinicians will play a crucial role in responding to any terrorist incident involving radioactive materials. To date, however, there has been a paucity of research focusing specifically on ED clinicians' perspectives regarding this threat.

METHODS: At the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a series of 10 focus groups (total participants, 77) with ED physicians and nurses at hospitals in 3 US regions. Participants considered a hypothetical "dirty bomb" scenario and discussed their perceptions, concerns, information needs, preferred information sources, and views of current guidance and informational materials.

RESULTS: Study participants consistently expressed the view that neither EDs nor hospital facilities are sufficiently prepared for a terrorist event involving radioactive materials. Key clinician concerns included the possibility of the hospital being overwhelmed, safety of loved ones, potential staffing problems, readiness problems, and contamination and self-protection. Participants also expressed a need for additional information, strongly disagreed with aspects of current response guidance, and in some cases indicated they would not carry out current protocols.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to examine the views, perceptions, and information needs of hospital ED clinicians regarding radiological terrorism. As such, the findings may be useful in informing current and future efforts to improve hospital preparedness.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.