Computer models show we would have a chance in case of terrorist attacks

According to a study in an issue of Medical Decision Making, in the case of a large-scale, covert anthrax attack on a large city, hospitals would be overwhelmed. This is because even with an extremely effective public health response, there would be expected delays in detecting the attack and initiating a response to it, as well as a huge strain on resources.

The article "Predicting Hospital Surge after a Large-Scale Anthrax Attack: A Model-Based Analysis of CDC's Cities Readiness Initiative Prophylaxis Recommendations," examines one of the CDC's principal bioterrorism-response programs, the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI). It is a program that recommends the medical countermeasures necessary to minimize the hospital surge resulting from anthrax-related illness and response in the first two days after a major bioterrorism attack.

The researchers found that starting two days after exposure, a CRI-compliant strategy would protect as many as 86% of exposed individuals. However, each additional day needed to complete the campaign would result in as much as 3% more hospitalizations in the exposed population.

The article, written by Nathaniel Hupert, incorporates some of the latest type of modeling techniques scientists use in the disaster preparedness field. To improve the consistency and quality of these models, the Society for Medical Decision Making convened experts to recommend better practices for modeling the public health response to an attack. Their article, also published in the current issue of Medical Decision Making, is entitled "Recommendations for Modeling Disaster Responses in Public Health and Medicine: A Position Paper of the Society for Medical Decision Making"

The authors examined many published mathematical and simulation health sector disaster response models to generate a set of best practice guidelines. They made several recommendations, including finding balance between simplicity and complexity, designing a plan to evaluate the many uncertainties inherent in disaster response, and good model reporting of the disaster response.

Another article written was, "Evaluating the Capability and Cost of a Mass Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccination Clinic via Computer Simulation"

This research set out to determine the best way a clinic could vaccinate as many as 15,000 clients in 17 hours, specifically how to best configure the personnel to maximize the number of clients vaccinated; and to estimate the costs and revenue of such an undertaking. The researchers found that it was possible for the clinic to reach its target and that using a computer simulation could help them determine the most efficient use of staff, machinery, supplies, and time.

"How hospitals and public health agencies are prepared for an attack--and how they respond to the surge in patients seeking care—will determine our success in containing an attack if one happens."" said Mark Helfand, editor of Medical Decision Making.

Source: SAGE Publications