Title: Hospital evacuation in disasters: uncovering the systemic leverage using system dynamics

Authors: John Voyer; Matthew D. Dean; Christopher B. Pickles

Addresses: School of Business, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, USA ' School of Business, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, USA ' School of Business, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, USA

Abstract: Our aim is to understand systemic processes that apply to hospital evacuation and patient relocation during and after a disaster. We use system dynamics to simulate hospital evacuation in such an event. System dynamics is a well-established simulation method for analysing complex social systems that include feedback. We found that the key to efficient hospital evacuation lies less in management of patient transportation and more in the ability of the receiving hospital to manage the influx of patients. The decision makers at the hospital receiving patients are most subject to feedback effects and therefore hold the most leverage in determining the rate of the evacuation. On the basis of simulation results, we develop recommendations for hospital evacuation and patient relocation. Planners, policy makers and practitioners can use the recommendations to facilitate efficient hospital evacuations.

Keywords: hospital evacuation; patient relocation; system dynamics; modelling; feedback; disaster response; disaster preparedness; surge capacity; emergency response; emergency preparedness; healthcare emergency management; receiving hospitals; evacuation rate; simulation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2016.076615

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2016 Vol.12 No.2, pp.152 - 167

Received: 03 Mar 2015
Accepted: 02 Nov 2015

Published online: 16 May 2016 *

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