Poll paints grim picture of ER disaster preparedness | KOB 4

Poll paints grim picture of ER disaster preparedness

Joy Wang
May 22, 2018 10:40 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – How prepared are emergency rooms in case of a natural disaster or mass casualty? A new poll says nine out of 10 ER doctors don't have access to critical medicines for patients.


The UNM Hospital emergency room sees almost 80 thousand emergency visits every year. The head of the department says they're constantly taking steps to make sure patients in our state get the care they need.

"Annual training. We do huge exercises where we'll actually have simulated patients that come in so we can help practice planning for mass casualties or sort of multi-victim events," said Dr. Steve McLaughlin.

A poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians found 93 percent of those surveyed said their emergency department was not fully prepared.

"The medication that we get these are obviously manufactured by pharmacy companies, and they have all kinds of supply chain problems or manufacturing problems that may lead to a shortage of a particular drug," McLaughlin said. "So what we see here in the hospital is on a weekly basis, there may be 1 or 2 medications that we're out of during that week."

That's why McLaughlin said they get a list of medications they're short of every week, so they can start thinking of backup plans.

"Medications that we typically run out of are often the inexpensive kind of generic medications that can be antibiotics, sometimes IV fluids or electrolytes like potassium," he said. "So what that does is it helps us to make sure that we have alternative medications that are available that we can actually use."

That's helpful at the only level one trauma center in New Mexico where transportation can be a huge issue.

"If you're in a rural part of New Mexico, which makes up most of the state, one of the real issues is actually getting patients from those areas here, so we can take care of them or getting the resources out to those small hospitals to help deal with those patients," McLaughlin said.

There are 82 beds in this emergency room and more than 600 in the hospital. McLaughlin said they have addition stretchers and can add space if needed.


Joy Wang

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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