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The allocation of resources in hospitals and other medical setups have been found to play a critical role in enhancing patient care in the modern medical world. In line with this, there are different strategies that have been developed over time in regard to analyzing the amount of resources that hospitals have and the work that needs to be done in terms of treating patients in hospitals. One of the strategies that have been explored over a long period of time in regard to patient care is ability to deal with the severity of the problem that a particular patient might be facing. With this in mind, surge capacity and triage has been used as a burn management approach in times of disasters and emergencies.
According to Herndon (2007), surge capacity can be defined as the ability of, or rather capacity to handle or manage up to 50% more than the normal maximum number of burns patients when there is a disaster (p.62). In other words, it is the ability to expand the healthcare capabilities in order to be able to deal with prolonged demand of burn patients. Following this point, the measurement of surge capacity of a particular healthcare depends on the ability of this hospital to raise funds and other resources including human resources in response to an emergency.
On the other hand, triage can be described as ability to give priority to patients with regard to severity of their conditions. With this in mind, healthcare facilities can be able to ration the number of patients in an effective manner irrespective of the resource capability of this health facility. In reference to Hogan & Burstein (2007), triage involves a complex cognitive stimuli, medical knowledge and motor skills, knowledge of change in causality condition, resource availability, and human capacity (p.12). In simple terms, triage can be described as the foundation of excellent disaster medical management.
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There are different ways through which hospitals and other health facilities can prepare themselves to deal with surge capacity and triage. According to Ciottone (2006), one of the ways that can be utilized in dealing with surge capacity is their ability to focus on collaboration between hospitals and health centers located at the place of disasters (p.197). In reference to this, patients who have little burns can be taken to small health centers whereas those with severe burns could be referred to major hospitals. In addition to this, there is need also to focus on saving lives by placing a first priority in terms of allocating immediate services such as treatment and transport to patients who have severe burns as compared to those that have mild injuries.
Another approach that hospitals need to use in the approach to dealing with surge capacity and triage is by setting up call centers and other places where people can obtain relevant information in regard to patient treatment. In reference to Altevogt et al. (2010), one way to mitigate surge at the hospital is to give people the information they need to decide for themselves what level of care is appropriate (p.26). In this respect, people can be able to obtain information whether certain types of treatment are available and whether these services are available at that particular time. As a result of this, these people can make informed decisions on whether to go to a particular hospital or not. In cases of emergencies, those that are involved in rescue can be able to determine where to take the casualties rather than focusing at a single place only to find that the treatment services are needed are not available due to lack of resources because of large number of patients.
There are different challenges that are related to surge capacity and triage among hospitals in the modern medical world. To begin with, funding has remained as one of the greatest challenges that hospitals experience on a daily basis. According to Ciottone (2006), funding of surge capacity remains as a challenge since the federal government has in most cases failed to allocate special funds as emergence funds to deal with such capacity challenges whenever they arise (p.193). This is as a result of the fact that the government has in most cases worked on dealing with the problem rather than preventing it.
In addition to lack of funding, there are no enough facilities in place to help alleviate the challenges that are associated with surge capacity. In reference to Rabkin (2005), the challenges that need to be overcome involve the fact that medical equipments available for response to emergence incidences vary greatly among different hospitals (p.119). Lack of equipments has been found to incapacitate hospitals from being able or in a position to respond to different challenges that emerges whenever there is an emergency. It is important to note that a hospital cannot in any way be able to handle a large number of casualties if such a hospital does not have enough equipment.
In summation, it can be said that surge capacity and triage involves the ability of hospitals to handle large number of casualties as a result of an emergency. However, whereas it may be taken lightly in general, the ability to handle surge capacity and triage issues depends heavily on how the hospital prepares itself in terms of finance, manpower and facilities. However, with enough funding, collaboration among hospitals and appropriate preparedness, hospitals can be able to deal with surge and triage issues in an effective manner.
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