A challenge for healthcare system resilience after an earthquake: The crowdedness of a first-aid hospital by non-urgent patients

You Xuan Lin, Chi Hao Lin, Chih Hao Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

After a violent earthquake, the supply of medical services may fall short of the rising demand, leading to overcrowding in hospitals, and, consequently, a collapse in the healthcare system. This paper takes the emergency care system in Taiwan as the research context, where first-aid hospitals are ranked to three levels, advanced, intermediate, and general, and, currently, emphasizes on a general emergency responsibility hospital. Having limited capacity and capability, a general emergency responsibility hospital treats minor and moderate injuries, from which the majority of earthquake-induced casualties suffer. The purpose of this study is to analyze the impact of this group of earthquake-induced non-urgent patients on the performance of a hospital. A patient flow model was built to represent patients’ paths throughout emergency care. Based on the model, discrete event simulation was applied to simulate patients’ trajectories and states of a hospital under four seismic scenarios, where patient visits are 1.4, 1.6, 1.9, and 2.3 times the normal number. A healthcare performance index, Crowdedness Index (CI), is proposed to measure crowdedness on a daily basis, which is defined as the ratio of the average waiting time for treatment to the recommended maximal waiting time. Results of simulations rendered the establishment of empirical equations, describing the relation between the maximum CIs and the patient growth ratios. In the most severe case in this study, the maximum CI exceeds 92 and it takes 10 days to recover from the quality drop. This highlights the problem a general emergency responsibility hospital may encounter if no emergency response measure is implemented. Findings are provided pertaining to the predication of a recovery curve and the alarming level of patient increase, which are supportive information for preparedness planning as well as response measure formulation to improve resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0249522
JournalPloS one
Volume16
Issue number4 April 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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