Are Hospitals Fully Prepared for Terrorism Attacks?

Hospitals are not fully prepared for the threat of biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism, according to a survey of healthcare chief information officers (CIO) conducted prior to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) 2003 Spring CIO Forum, held earlier this month in San Diego.

Douglas E. Goldstein, president of Medical Alliances - was tapped to deliver the keynote, "Homeland Security through Health Information Technology, Infrastructure, and Leadership."

"Despite strides in the last year, hospitals, doctors, nurses and our health information technology systems are not prepared to effectively respond to biological, chemical, nuclear and cyber attack," said Goldstein. "The lack of sharing and collaboration in the public and private sectors is a significant challenge to overcome in our nation's preparedness efforts."

Goldstein told the more than 1,000 CIO attendees responsible for helping their healthcare organizations identify and implement technology and leadership solutions specific to terrorist preparedness, "With our just-raised terror alert, the time to act is now. Together, we can identify and implement action steps for health care leadership to initiate in the organizations, communities, states and country to protect Americans against terrorism and other catastrophic events. It's a matter of life and health."

The news isn't all bad, said Goldstein. Efforts to be prepared, empower patients with an interactive, electronic medical record, and a connected health information system will also help drastically reduce medical errors and improve healthcare quality.

He concluded by saying, "A transformed national health information infrastructure (NHII) is not a only a vital health and welfare issue, but an essential national defense imperative for America."

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