Report highlights gaps in hospital biopreparedness

A recently released report identified gaps in hospital bioterrorism preparedness for the pediatric population and highlighted the need to address the unique care such patients would require in an emergency.

Despite heightened awareness of biothreats since the 2001 Amerithrax attacks, the U.S. is still believed to be particularly vulnerable to bioattacks, reports.

A major source of vulnerability is believed to be hospital preparedness, which is being pushed at a national level by the CDC's National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program and the Hospital Preparedness program.

FEMA, the DHS and state health departments are providing funds to aid hospitals in becoming more prepared for emergency situations, but efforts to identify bioterrorism agents, increase communication and provide pediatric care are lagging.

One aspect that is slowing advances is the diversity of patients in pediatric care, from neonatal intensive care units that require constant supervision to dealing with families, pediatric care has provided a host of variables, according to

Additionally, the large visitor population for pediatrics can increase exposure.

To protect against the threat of bioterror, the report says, hospitals, in their role as first responders, need to be able to identify and respond to events. Current protocols and initiatives, however,do not focus on the needs of the pediatric patient population, reports.