Disasters disproportionally affect vulnerable, technology-dependent people, including preterm and critically ill newborn infants.
A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "Disaster Preparedness in Neonatal Intensive Care Units," appearing in the May 2017 issue of
Pediatrics (published online April 17) examines how
neonatal intensive care units (NICU) can prepare for and manage outcomes during and after a disaster.
The report builds on existing AAP policies concerning children in disasters with an objective to help neonatologists and other NICU providers develop response plans within their units, hospital institutions, and geographic areas.
Recommendations include that health care institutions and providers know and prepare for the most likely disaster scenarios in their communities (eg,
flood) and that NICU teams fully participate in the emergency and disaster planning.
Neonatal care systems (providers, administration, information technology, and equipment) should develop appropriate staffing to support safe and effective operations during disasters. And during a disaster, neonatal care providers should maintain situational awareness for decision making, including the number of patients in their care and severity of illnesses, what equipment is available, medication routines and storage, and staffing. In addition to the needs of NICU patients, NICU providers may need to consider the medical and psychosocial needs of postpartum mothers and families.