Previous research (subscription required) has shown that traditional triage systems used during natural disasters are not effective for treating newborns. Now a group of doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital say it's time for neonatal intensive care units around the country to address this problem and work collaboratively to create and adopt a better system for neonates.
A resource-based triage system (for example TRAIN) appropriate for neonates, needs to be created and in place before the next major disaster to enable regional cooperation. This system would have to be agreed on and understood in advance by all hospitals in the region. Patients could be categorized routinely either on rounds or automatically by electronic medical record systems. Thus, should an emergency evacuation be needed, triaging would already be in place.
The physicians go on to discuss the types of public health emergencies most likely to have a significant impact on neonatal intensive care units and provide recommendations on standards and protocols to consider in developing a neonate-specific triage system.
Photo by Mat Culpepper