Medical Surge Definition
Medical surge is the ability of a health care organization to provide adequate medical evaluation and sufficient medical care to victims of public health disasters.
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Public health disasters can result from both natural and human-made causes (Clements & Casani, 2016).
Examples of natural disasters include floods, earthquakes, and pandemic influenza while human-made causes include explosions, exposure from ionization radiation sources, and bioterrorism attacks.
Public health disasters surpass the established limits of medical infrastructure in the affected region.
Therefore, medical surge seeks to establish a framework for healthcare providers and medical institutions to survive the effects of a public health disaster and to maintain or recover compromised operations quickly.
Through medical surge, the healthcare institutions can obtain medical system resiliency which is the survival of a hazard impact and the maintenance or rapid recovery of compromised operations.
Medical Surge Capacity
Medical surge capacity refers to the ability of healthcare facilities to evaluate and provide the necessary medical care to a significant number of patients particularly above its ordinary performance operations (“The MSCC Management System,” 2020).
The evaluation and care provided to patients include laboratory studies and extensive epidemiological investigations. It is not necessarily confined to direct patient care. In cases of a pandemic caused by an outbreak of a new infection, for example, the health care workers have to conduct widespread investigations to determine the appropriate prevention and treatment procedures.
Since medical surge capacity has a direct relation to the number of patients, physical resources such as personnel, hospital beds, supplies, and equipment have to be considered.
The existing assets have to be tested against various elements such as identification of the medical need, identification of the resources required to address the needs in a timely manner, moving the resources quickly to places where they are required, and supporting and managing the resources to their maximum output capacity.
In most occasions, the available resources are not sufficient to cater to the needs of all the patients seeking medical attention.
Therefore, additional resources have to be sought such as state intervention, standby resources, and federal aid.
However, the facilities have to ensure they maximize the available resources before integrating other products.
Medical Surge Capability
Medical surge capability is the ability of healthcare organizations to manage patients who need unusual or specialized medical care and evaluation.
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Medical surge provides a variety of specialized medical services such as personnel, information, expertise, equipment, and procedures.
The medical services needed are not normally available where they are required. For example, the need for specialized pediatric care provided in non-pediatric facilities.
Medical surge capability also involves the integration of special intervention methods to protect healthcare providers, other patients, and the reputation of the healthcare facility. The interventions are instituted against patients with severe and highly communicable illnesses.
The MSCC is an abbreviation for medical surge capacity and capability.
It is a system instituted in healthcare facilities to meet patient needs that challenge or surpass the ordinary operational activities of the facility while preserving the quality of its care and the integrity of the healthcare system.
Through MSCC, healthcare organizations and adequately utilize their existing resources and then obtain external help in an efficient and timely manner.
In that case, the facilities can move from the baseline medical capacity and capability to the incident medical surge capacity and capability and then return to the baseline.
The incident MSCC facilitates the ability of the organization to address the needs of catastrophic situations that cause public health disasters.
It incorporates timely and primary strategies for emergency interventions at the local level.
The MSCC system bridges the public and the private gap as it is used to obtain help from the federal government or privately owned medical assets (“The MSCC Management System,” 2020)
The MSCC System provides six tier levels of emergency response and recovery.
- Tier 1 – Management of individual healthcare assets
- Tier 2 – Management of the healthcare coalition
- Tier 3 – Jurisdiction Incident management
- Tier 4 – Management of state response and coordination of interstate jurisdictions
- Tier 5 – Interstate regional management coordination
- Tier 6 – Federal support to state, tribal, and jurisdiction management
How the MSCC System relates to ICS
The MSCC system involves four processes whereby mitigation reduces or prevents the likelihood of the occurrence of a hazard, preparedness entails capacity and capability approaches for medical resiliency, response activities are taken in anticipation of an event or immediately it has happened while recovery activities are restorative to return the community to its initial state before the catastrophic event struck.
ICS provides the necessary guidelines on how to organize assets to respond to an event and the necessary measures to manage the response through its respective stages (Jensen & Thompson, 2016).
The management of the assets is in relation to various functions of the assets. Through command, the overall response is provided, operations integrate various strategies to achieve the goals set at the command level, logistics provides facilities, personnel, and supplies, planning section outlines the key plans to be followed as well as tracking the resources provided and the finance, also called the administration element, supports ICS through regulatory compliance and financial reimbursement.
Clements, B. W., & Casani, J. (2016). Disasters and public health: Planning and response (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann.
Jensen, J., & Thompson, S. (2016). The incident command system: A literature review. Disasters, 40(1), 158-182.
The MSCC Management System. (2020).