Chapter 2. Surge capacity and infrastructure considerations for mass critical care

John L. Hick, Michael D. Christian, Charles L. Sprung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Purpose: To provide recommendations and standard operating procedures for intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital preparations for a mass disaster or influenza epidemic with a specific focus on surge capacity and infrastructure considerations. Methods: Based on a literature review and expert opinion, a Delphi process was used to define the essential topics including surge capacity and infrastructure considerations. Results: Key recommendations include: (1) hospitals should increase their ICU beds to the maximal extent by expanding ICU capacity and expanding ICUs into other areas; (2) hospitals should have appropriate beds and monitors for these expansion areas; hospitals should develop contingency plans at the facility and government (local, state, provincial, national) levels to provide additional ventilators; (3) hospitals should develop a phased staffing plan (nursing and physician) for ICUs that provides sufficient patient care supervision during contingency and crisis situations; (4) hospitals should provide expert input to the emergency management personnel at the hospital both during planning for surge capacity as well as during response; (5) hospitals should assure that adequate infrastructure support is present to support critical care activities; (6) hospitals should prioritize locations for expansion by expanding existing ICUs, using postanesthesia care units and emergency departments to capacity, then step-down units, large procedure suites, telemetry units and finally hospital wards. Conclusions: Judicious planning and adoption of protocols for surge capacity and infrastructure considerations are necessary to optimize outcomes during a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S11-S20
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Disaster
  • H1N1
  • Hospital
  • Influenza epidemic
  • Intensive care unit
  • Pandemic
  • Recommendations
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Surge capacity


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