Mass Fatality Incident Management: Guidance for Hospitals and Other Healthcare Entities

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Los Angeles County's mass fatality guidance provides detailed tools and recommendations that may assist hospitals and the offices of Medical Examiners and Coroners during an emergency. The guidance provides checklists for planning, staffing a fatalities management unit, and morgue surge. Tools include job action sheets; an equipment and supplies checklist; a decedent information and tracking card; flow charts for death management, including a flow chart specifically tailored to a death due to pandemic influenza; fact sheets on health risks from working with decedents; storage of human remains; and sample pre- and post-test questions for a mass fatality pandemic influenza exercise.

One reviewer found this practice noteworthy, due to its excellent and detailed summary of hospital mass fatality planning. One interesting aspect of the guidance is its discussion of myths surrounding mass fatality management (e.g., the difference between a mass grave and a temporary burial) and issues with storage of human remains (e.g., the infeasibility and psychosocial consequences of freezing remains). Some of the material contained in the guidance specifically applies to Los Angeles County, yet most of the materials are generally adaptable to any hospital setting.

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