Prepare for potential disasters by analyzing risks in your geographical area

June 1, 2011

In planning for disaster, physicians should first analyze their specific risks. That's the advice of Italo Subbarao, D.O., deputy editor of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness and director of the Public Health Readiness Office in the American Medical Association's Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response.

National report - In planning for disaster, physicians should first analyze their specific risks. That's the advice of Italo Subbarao, D.O., deputy editor of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness and director of the Public Health Readiness Office in the American Medical Association's Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response.

Dr. Subbarao, an emergency medicine physician and fellowship-trained in disaster medicine, says anyone might face general disasters, such as fire. Natural disasters, however, tend to occur in certain geographic areas. For instance, those living in coastal areas may face the threat of hurricanes, while those in California may be concerned about earthquakes.

"As an individual, you have to be aware of what those risks are and what kinds of plans may be in place at the community level," he says.

Then, there's the practice. Dr. Subbarao says items on a practice's readiness checklist should include:

Dr. Subbarao and James James, M.D., Dr.P.H., director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response, are authors of the AMA guide "What to do Before, During, and After an Emergency or Disaster ... A Preparedness Toolkit for Office-based Health Care Practices." Physicians can purchase the guide and CD-ROM through the AMA website for a step-by-step approach and checklists for practice-based disaster readiness.