Evaluation of How Web-Based Disease Surveillance Systems Can be Applied to Trauma-Care Information Needs during a Mass Casualty Incident

Wednesday, June 25, 2014: 7:15 AM
Ryman I, Renaissance Hotel
Catherine Ordun , Booz Allen Hamilton, Atlanta, GA
Dimitrios Koutsonanos , Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
Tim Davis , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
KC Decker , Booz Allen Hamilton, Atlanta, GA

Brief Summary:
 Web-based surveillance tools such as Healthmap, GPHIN, Ushahidi, and ProMED, provide capabilities to detect, monitor, and characterize infectious disease outbreaks worldwide.  Researchers, practitioners and policy makers are increasingly using these tools to obtain real-time situational awareness in order to identify areas for public health intervention.  However, little has been researched about how these digital epidemiology tools and methods could be applied for non-infectious disease, mainly trauma and injury resulting from mass casualty incidents (MCIs).  According to the World Health Organization, MCIs that most countries experience are “everyday disasters”, occurring frequently without widespread media sensationalism that might include major accidents like road traffic, industrial incidents where tens of victims not thousands are impacted.  Research implies that for each disaster listed in official disaster databases about 20 other smaller emergencies with destructive impact on local communities go unacknowledged.[1]  In the U.S., trauma is the 5th leading cause of death for all age groups combined, ensuing an epidemic claiming the lives of over 140,000 people annually and is the leading cause of disability of all people under the age of 65. Trauma impacts the hospital bottom line, as well, increasing lengths of hospital stays, rehabilitative costs, and inefficient consumption of personnel and resources during a MCI. The disaster response to trauma is inefficient because significant “information blackouts” commonly occur during MCIs ranging from unknown distributions of casualties, methods of patient transport, responder safety hazards, and hospital personnel and resource constraints.  While trauma surveillance systems do exist, no standard system that will register, monitor and compare trauma incidents and outcomes between or across States or Regions has been developed. A contemporary, unified system leveraging digital epidemiology could improve situational awareness, reduce morbidity and mortality, and improve operational efficiency. Our research identified and evaluated 7 out of 20 web-based surveillance tools whose data collection, analysis, and reporting practices could be directly applicable to providing enhanced information awareness across 20 trauma criteria we identified as key information gaps during a MCI.  We present our findings on how elements of each of these surveillance tools could be directly used or modified to develop a digital epidemiology tool and methodology to address information gaps during a MCI. 

[1] Maskrey, cited in WHO 999