Surge capacity principles: Care of the critically ill and injured during pandemics and disasters: CHEST consensus statement

John L. Hick, Sharon Einav, Dan Hanfling, Niranjan Kissoon, Jeffrey R. Dichter, Asha V. Devereaux, Michael D. Christian, Task Force for Mass Critical Care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: This article provides consensus suggestions for expanding critical care surge capacity and extension of critical care service capabilities in disasters or pandemics. It focuses on the principles and frameworks for expansion of intensive care services in hospitals in the developed world. A companion article addresses surge logistics, those elements that provide the capability to deliver mass critical care in disaster events. The suggestions in this article are important for all who are involved in large-scale disasters or pandemics with injured or critically ill multiple patients, including front-line clinicians, hospital administrators, and public health or government officials. METHODS: The Surge Capacity topic panel developed 23 key questions focused on the following domains: systems issues; equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals; staffing; and informatics. Literature searches were conducted to identify evidence on which to base key suggestions. Most reports were small scale, were observational, or used flawed modeling; hence, the level of evidence on which to base recommendations was poor and did not permit the development of evidence-based recommendations. Therefore, the panel developed expert opinion-based suggestions using a modified Delphi process. Suggestions from the previous task force were also included for validation by the expert panel. RESULTS: Th is article presents 10 suggestions pertaining to the principles that should guide surge capacity and capability planning for mass critical care, including the role of critical care in disaster planning; the surge continuum; targets of surge response; situational awareness and information sharing; mitigating the impact on critical care; planning for the care of special populations; and service deescalation/cessation (also considered as engineered failure). CONCLUSIONS: Future reports on critical care surge should emphasize population-based outcomes as well as logistical details. Planning should be based on the projected number of critically ill or injured patients resulting from specific scenarios. Th is should include a consideration of ICU patient care requirements over time and must factor in resource constraints that may limit the ability to provide care. Standard ICU management forms and patient data forms to assess ICU surge capacity impacts should be created and used in disaster events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1S-e16S
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT: This publication was supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number 1U90TP00591-01 from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and through a research sub award agreement through the Department of Health and Human Services [Grant 1 - HFPEP070013-01-00] from the Office of Preparedness of Emergency Operations. In addition, this publication was supported by a grant from the University of California–Davis.

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