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J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Jun;46(6):1131-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2011.03.042.

Disaster response in a pediatric field hospital: lessons learned in Haiti.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, Miami Children's Hospital and FIU College of Medicine, Miami, FL 33155, USA.



This study outlines the evolution of a pediatric field hospital after the January 2010 Haiti earthquake.


Project Medishare set up a field hospital in Port-au-Prince 48 hours after the event. Our institution staffed the pediatric component for 45 days, with sequential deployment of 9 volunteer medical teams. Evolving facility and manpower requirements and changing patient demographics over time were evaluated.


Delegations consisted of surgeons, pediatricians, nurses, operating room (OR) personnel, physical therapists, pharmacists, and support staff. Primary goals involved creation of a child-specific ward, pediatric OR, and a wound care center. Major inpatient demographic changes occurred as time from the disaster elapsed. Initial census showed that 93% of the patients were surgical admissions with 40% undergoing operations, mostly fracture and wound care, over the first week. Eight weeks later, medical illnesses accounted for 70% of inpatients, whereas OR volume dropped by more than 50%. A second trend involved increasing acuity of care. Initially, children were admitted for serious or limb-threatening, but usually not life-threatening, injuries. Within 2 months, one third of the patients were housed in the developing NICU/PICU; and only 12% were admitted for injuries related to the earthquake. This change in patient needs led to alterations in facility requirements and in staffing and leadership needs.


A disaster involving significant casualties in a populated area demands the rapid development of a field facility with pediatric personnel. Requirements for equipment, manpower, medical records, and systems addressing volunteer stress and ethical dilemmas can be anticipated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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