One more reason to fear a nuclear attack: hospital overcrowding

I got a good chuckle out of this headline from the USA Today:

Study: Hospitals would be ‘overloaded’ by nuclear attack on U.S.

Here’s a selection from the text:

If terrorists detonated a nuclear weapon in a city, “it is reasonable to expect that the health care system would be overloaded with massive numbers of patients requiring an array of professionals with specialized training,” write the study authors, William Bell and Cham Dallas of the Center for Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia in Athens. “If this already stretched medical community was also severely impacted by the very attack that requires its response, the effects would be even more devastating,” they argue.

I love the careful phrasing “reasonable to expect.” The authors are leaving themselves an out just in case it turns out to be business as usual!

Here’s the good news folks: hospitals are already overloaded, with ERs on diversion and long waits to see physicians. With that in mind, I’m not sure we need a study to tell us the health system won’t be able to handle a situation where just about everyone around is sick or dead.

Wisely, the authors recommend preventing nuclear attack rather than beefing up the health care system to prepare for one.

April 17, 2007

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