Bioterrorism preparedness at a hospital level in the Southwest Region of the United States – A systematic review

Tetyana A Keeble, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Since the tragic events of September, 11 2001 the United States bioterrorism and disaster preparedness has made significant progress; yet, numerous research studies of nationwide hospital emergency response have found alarming shortcomings in surge capacity and training level of health care personnel in responding to bioterrorism incidents. The primary goals of this research were to assess hospital preparedness towards the threat of bioterrorist agents in the Southwest Region of the United States and provide recommendations for its improvement. Since little formal research has been published on the hospital preparedness of Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, this research study specifically focused on the measurable factors affecting the respective states' resources and level of preparedness, such as funding, surge capacity and preparedness certification status. Over 300 citations of peer-reviewed articles and 17 Web sites were reviewed, of which 57 reports met inclusion criteria. The results of the systematic review highlighted key gaps in the existing literature and the key targets for future research, as well as identified strengths and weaknesses of the hospital preparedness in the Southwest states compared to the national average. Based on the conducted research, currently, the Southwest states hospital systems are unable fully meet presidential preparedness mandates for emergency and disaster care: the staffed beds to 1,000 population value fluctuated around 1,5 across the states; funding for the hospital preparedness lags behind hospital costs by millions of dollars; and public health-hospital partnership in bioterrorism preparedness is quite weak as evident in lack of joint exercises and training. However, significant steps towards it are being made, including on-going hospital preparedness certification by the Joint Commission of Health Organization. Variations in preparedness levels among states signify that geographic location might determine a hospital level of bioterrorism preparedness as well, tending to favor bigger states such as Texas. Suggested recommendations on improvement of the hospital bioterrorism preparedness are consistent with the existing literature and include establishment and maintenance of solid partnerships between hospitals and public health agencies, conduction of joint exercises and drills for the health care personnel and key partners, improved state and federal funding specific to bioterrorism preparedness objectives, as well as on-going training of the clinical personnel on recognition of the bioterrorism agents.

Subject Area

Public Health Education|Public health|Political science

Recommended Citation

Keeble, Tetyana A, "Bioterrorism preparedness at a hospital level in the Southwest Region of the United States – A systematic review" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1479570.