"In the event of a catastrophic public health or terrorism-related event, such as an influenza pandemic or the detonation of a nuclear device, the needs of tens of thousands of victims may overwhelm the resources of a community's health care system. […] In this dire scenario, referred to as a mass casualty event (MCE), if the health care system is to remain functioning and save as many lives as possible, it will be necessary to allocate scarce resources in ways that are different from normal circumstances but are appropriate for the situation. For the purposes of this report, scarce resources broadly include physical items (e.g., medical supplies, drugs, beds, equipment), services (e.g., medical treatments, nursing care, palliative care), and health care personnel (e.g., physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, other essential workers in health care settings)." The purpose of this guide is to help community planners "face the challenge of allocating scarce resources quickly enough to prevent undue illness and death" by providing them with strategies and approaches that will help them in their efforts to plan for and respond to an MCE.
AHRQ Publication No. 09-0016
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: http://www.ahrq.gov/