Disaster medicine- performance indicators, information support and documentation A study of an evaluation tool
Abstract: The science of disaster medicine is more a descriptive than analytical type. Research, in most instances, has not employed quantitative methods and there is very sparse knowledge based on analytical statistics. One consequence of this is that similar mistakes are repeated over and over. Lessons that should be learned are merely observed.Moreover, there are almost no practical or ethical ways in which randomised controlled studies can be performed.The management, command and control of situations on different levels of hierarchy has eldom been evaluated and there have been no standards against which performance can be evaluated. Furthermore, the documentation of decisions and staff work is rarely sufficient enough to evaluate command and control functions.Setting standards that may be used as templates for evaluation and research is an issue that is constantly being addressed by leading experts in the field of disaster medicine and this is also an important issue that is expressed in the Utstein Template.Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, templates of performance indicators were developed. These were tested on reports available from incidents, and our conclusion was that documentation in this form was not adequate enough for use in this method of evaluation.Documentation must be improved and data probably need to be captured and stored with the help of information systems.A template developed for the evaluation of medical command and control at the scene was tested in standardised examinations. When using this template in this setting it was possible to obtain specific information on those aspects of command and control that need to be improved.An information system using on-line Internet technique was studied twice. The first study concluded that in spite of technical disturbances the system was acceptable to the organisation but could not yet be recommended for use during major incidents. The second study concluded that the retrieval of information was, in all respects not as good as the control system, a conventional ambulance file system.In a study of staff procedure skills during training of management staffs in command and control it was concluded that documentation during training sessions was not adequate and this lack of staff procedure skills could possibly be a contributing factor to the fact that lessons in command and control are not learned from incidents.Conclusions in thesis are that measurable performance indicators can be used in the training of command and control. If performance indicators are to be used in real incidents and disasters, functioning information systems have to be developed. This may lead to a better knowledge of command and control and could possibly contribute to a process where lessons are learned and mistakes are not repeated.
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