The Greater New York Hospital Association sent its members a seven-page document prepared by New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advising hospitals to be on the lookout for symptoms associated with chemical terrorism. Released Feb. 7, the same day the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the national security advisory status to orange, the alert advises nurses and physicians to watch for an "unusual increase in the number of people seeking care, especially with respiratory, neurological, gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms." The alert listed several chemical agents as potential threats, including nerve gas and cyanide. The health department issued a second memo this week informing hospitals that it has antidotes for nerve agents available. "Hospitals throughout our area are reviewing a lot of different types of protocols, and we've been preparing intensively since 2001 for a variety of possible events," said GNYHA spokeswoman Mary Johnson. -- by Julie Piotrowski
N.Y. hospitals warned to watch for chemical attack
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