American Society of Anesthesiologist Establishes New Checklist for Mass Casualty Situation to Enhance Emergency Preparedness

(Released 7 December 2015) Chicago, IL - The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today announced the release of a new resource for hospitals, physicians and O.R. personnel – the Operating Room Mass Casualty Management checklist. Developed by the ASA Committee on Trauma and Emergency Preparedness (COTEP), the tool helps physician anesthesiologists and O.R. personnel optimize their response and better manage the flow of patient care during mass casualty events. 

“While there has been a decrease in violent crime and gun related homicides in the United States over the past decade, mass casualty events, including mass shootings, terrorist attacks and natural disasters have increased in frequency,” said Joseph McIsaac, M.D., M.S., COTEP member and chief of trauma anesthesia at Hartford Hospital, Connecticut. “The new checklist utilizes the military planning and response principles – command, control, communications, intelligence and logistics – to prioritize tasks necessary for effective surgical and anesthetic response to mass casualty events.” 

The checklist includes step-by-step instructions and outlines specific tasks that should be completed upon being alerted of a mass casualty situation, such as ensuring adequate supplies, verifying blood availability and assigning a physician anesthesiologist as the Emergency Department liaison. While the list is guided by principles, it is meant to be customized by individual facilities to maximize management of these situations. 

The committee has also updated ASA’s Manual for Anesthesia Department Organization and Management (MADOM) by adding a new chapter on emergency preparedness in the anesthesia department. The chapter prepares hospitals and physicians for disaster response and serves as a guide for trauma anesthesia. 

Disaster and emergency preparedness efforts in the public health sector are especially important in light of recent events, including the terrorist attack in France and mass shooting in San Bernadino, California. The COTEP will continue to develop tools to help physician anesthesiologists handle emergent situations and disasters including education and training for residents, practicing physicians, anesthesiologist assistants, and nurse anesthetists; creating additional checklists; and conducting research studies.

For additional information on how to prepare for trauma, mass casualty or other emergency events, visit www.asahq.org.