184370 Hurricane Katrina-Related Injuries and Immunizations among Gulf Coast Evacuees Sheltered in Houston, Texas, September 2005

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nancy F. Weller, BSN, MPH, DrPH , Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Mark Faul, BS, MS, PhD , National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Injury Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Julie A. Jones, MD, MPH , Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH , Deputy Director, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, Houston, TX
Douglas R. Hamilton, MD, PhD , Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Herminia Palacio, MD, MPH , Executive Director, Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, Houston, TX
Background. After Hurricane Katrina and a decline in the living conditions at a major New Orleans shelter, evacuees were bused to a Houston mega-shelter. The Katrina Clinic was quickly organized to treat acute injuries/illnesses and chronic conditions. The purpose of this analysis is to document the nature, extent and location of 1,130 injuries treated at the Katrina Clinic during September 1-22, 2005. We also document the extent of injury among 50 emergency medical services transfers to Houston-area hospitals.

Methods. We compare the injury frequency among Katrina evacuees to a national database of injuries seen in a typical outpatient setting. Using the Barell Matrix and ICD-9-CM Codes, we classify Katrina injuries by body region and nature of injury, describe late effect injuries due to untimely medical treatment and exposure to environmental conditions, and document the large number of distributed immunizations.

Results. Our results indicate a 42% higher proportion of injuries among Katrina evacuees compared to outpatients. Wound injuries to the leg, particularly the lower leg, feet and toes, were among the most common injuries treated at the Katrina Clinic and transported to hospitals. The Barell Matrix established the disproportionally superficial nature of these injuries to extremities, particularly open wounds. We found that half of evacuees received immunizations for hurricane-related injuries or vaccination lapse, primarily adult diphtheria-tetanus.

Conclusions. Future planning for hurricanes should take into account nonfatal injuries requiring medical treatment and other supportive care. Families should assemble a disaster supplies kit including a complete change of footwear for each family member.

Learning Objectives:
Identify the overall percentage of injuries sustained by Katrina evacuees treated at the Katrina Clinic in Houston. Identify common injuries experienced by evacuees, the injury locations, and strategies to prevent such injuries. List several identified public health messages for populations confronting similar disasters.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have written several parts of the manuscript from which this abstract derived. I have participated actively in analysis of the data which was acquired through my efforts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.