During and after disasters, focus is directed toward meeting the immediate needs of the general population. As a result, the routine health care and the special needs of some vulnerable populations such as pregnant and postpartum women may be overlooked within a resource-limited setting. In the event of hazards such as natural disasters, manmade disasters, and terrorism, knowledge of emergency preparedness strategies is imperative for the pregnant woman and her family, obstetric providers, and hospitals. Individualized plans for the pregnant woman and her family should include knowledge of shelter in place, birth at home, and evacuation. Obstetric providers need to have a personal disaster plan in place that accounts for work responsibilities in case of an emergency and business continuity strategies to continue to provide care to their communities. Hospitals should have a comprehensive emergency preparedness program utilizing an “all hazards” approach to meet the needs of pregnant and postpartum women and other vulnerable populations during disasters. With lessons learned in recent tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina in mind, we hope this review will stimulate emergency preparedness discussions and actions among obstetric providers and attenuate adverse outcomes related to catastrophes in the future.
In this review, we aim to describe emergency preparedness for the pregnant patient and medical team and unique issues for disaster response in obstetrics.
St. David's Women's Center of Texas, Austin Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Austin, and Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Houston, Texas; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Healthcare Preparedness Program, and the Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Corresponding author: Sina Haeri, MD, MHSA, Austin Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 12200 Renfert Way, G-3, Austin, TX 78758; e-mail: SinaHaeri@gmail.com.
Continuing medical education for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/AOG/A622.
Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.