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Lessons Learned From an Obstetrics and Gynecology Field Hospital Response to Natural Disasters

Pinkert, Moshe MD, MHA; Dar, Shir MD, MHA; Goldberg, Doron MD; Abargel, Avi MD, MHA; Cohen-Marom, Ophir MD, MHA; Kreiss, Yitshak MD, MHA, MPA; Merin, Ofer MD, MHA

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31829b5938
Global Women's Health: Current Commentary

Field hospitals were deployed by the Israel Defense Forces as part of the international relief efforts after major seismic events, one in Haiti (2010) and one in Japan (2011). The teams treated a total of 44 pregnant and 24 nonpregnant women and performed 16 deliveries and three cesarean deliveries under extreme conditions. Half of all deliveries were complicated by preeclampsia and 31% were preterm (at 30–32 weeks of gestation). It is imperative that obstetrician–gynecologists be included among humanitarian aid delegations sent to sites of natural disasters. The complicated cases we encountered required highly skilled obstetricians and led to a shortage of specific medications for these women. Cases that would have been considered routine under normal conditions created unanticipated ethical and practical issues in the face of very limited resources. The aim of this commentary is to share the experiences and lessons learned by our field hospital obstetrics and gynecology teams after the major earthquakes in Haiti and Japan. We present what we consider to be the 10 most important lessons learned and propose that they serve as guidelines in preparing for essential needs in other natural disaster settings.

Guidelines are provided for establishing an efficient field hospital obstetrics and gynecology unit based on a medical team's onsite experience after two major natural disasters.

Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps Field Hospital, Tel Hashomer, Isreal CreATe Fertility Centre, Toronto, Canada; the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and the Trauma Unit and Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel.

Corresponding author: Shir Dar, MD, MHA, 790 Bay Street, Suite 1100, Toronto, Ontario, M5G1N8, Canada; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.