State and local officials fear hospitals won't have the capacity to treat a sudden surge of patients in the event of bioterrorism, the General Accounting Office said in a new report, and one state indicated only 11% of its hospitals could readily increase their capacity for treating patients with diseases requiring isolation. Meeting providers' needs is "extremely difficult," the GAO said, because "hospitals are reluctant to create capacity that is not needed on a routine basis and may never be utilized at a particular facility." Hospitals specifically reported needing larger medical stockpiles and additional protective equipment, special facilities and air-filtering equipment to increase their preparation for bioterrorism. The GAO recommended that HHS and the Department of Homeland Security develop specific benchmarks for adequate mechanisms for evaluating and sharing best practices. The report is available online at the GAO's Web site, www.gao.gov. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Hospitals' surge capacity may be too low: GAO
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.