Management of Hazmat incidents in hospitals
Dr Jimmy Chan
Chief of Service, Accident & Emergency Department, Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital
A ?hazmat? (hazardous material) incident is one related to hazardous material such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) substances. Chemical incidents are by far the most common CBRN incidents. According to the data from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry?s Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES),1 there was an upward trend in
the occurrence of hazmat incidents from 1993 to 2001. The study in Cambridge Hospital, Massachusetts, also revealed that 80% of the hazmat incidents occurred in fixed facilities and 11% occurred on school and healthcare premises.2 Moreover, this study also showed that chlorine derivatives constituted 18% of all incidents. In managing hazmat incidents, the concept of ?time is tissue? should be borne in mind, because more delay results in more damage. The principle of management is to prevent injury to staff and
secondary contamination of facilities leading to the suspension of services.3 Before the availability of external help, therefore, hospitals should formulate
the strategic and tactical preparation to meet this challenge. In some cluster hospitals, the 2P&2R ? prevention, preparedness, response and recovery ?
approach seems to be a good option.Chan, Jimmy
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