In a medical context, the term surge capacity refers to a healthcare delivery system’s ability to rapidly accommodate an increased demand for services under extenuating circumstances. The 3 most commonly identified components of surge capacity are staff, stuff (equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals), and space (room to accommodate patients, providers, and equipment) (1). A fourth, usually problematic, component is structure (delineation of management infrastructure). How a modern intensive care unit might respond to a major catastrophic event is informed by how it deals with everyday stressors.
This chapter from SCCM's Fundamental Disaster Management, Third Edition seeks to:
- Explain how surge capacity relates to intensive care unit (ICU) readiness for a mass casualty incident.
- Discuss the challenges inherent in maintaining high surge capacity in the ICU.
- Explain how ICU surge capacity fits within the larger framework of disaster medical response.
Alex Gifford, MD
Peter Spiro, MD