August 15, 2012, Vol 308, No. 7
A Framework for Catastrophic Disaster Response
Dan Hanfling, MD; Bruce M. Altevogt, PhD; Lawrence O. Gostin, JD
The Japanese tsunami, Haitian earthquake, and Gulf Coast hurricane offered stark reminders of how vulnerable organized societies are to catastrophic events. They also show how public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring (eg, a pandemic outbreak of novel influenza) or deliberate (eg, a terrorist attack using an improvised nuclear device)—will stress the health system beyond its current capacity. This will require a health and medical response that is fundamentally different from the status quo.