war in iraq


New Bioterrorism Response and Information Center for Physicians

Bioterrorism Response and Information Center created by UPMC

February 06, 2003

In an effort to meet the challenges presented by potential bioterror attacks in western Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has expanded its MedCall™ service by creating the new Terrorism Response and Information Center to provide information related to bioterrorism to doctors and local emergency agencies. In addition, the center can quickly deploy medical personnel and resources to ground zero or wherever needed in the event of an attack.

MedCall, which was developed by the UPMC 14 years ago, is an extensive 24/7 physician tracking system that includes immediate contact information for more than 11,000 UPMC physicians. Containing more than 400 on-call schedules, MedCall is considered among the largest electronic physician tracking systems in the United States.

MedCall was modified after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to include a database of experts in bioterrorism, infectious disease and weapons of mass destruction. In the event of an emergency, the MedCall system can be expanded so operators can coordinate with local and federal health authorities to quickly process requests for information.

If war with Iraq becomes a reality, the threat of retaliation on American soil is significant. Because western Pennsylvania has an overabundance of inpatient beds, its hospitals likely would be used if there were mass military or civilian casualties.

"Bioterrorism unfortunately is a looming reality. In times of war or disaster, the UPMC MedCall system will help track and triage patients safely and efficiently and provide vital information to the medical community," says Loren Roth, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice-president, medical services of UPMC and co-chairman of UPMC's Bioterrorism Preparedness Group.

Currently, various government agencies are reviewing the MedCall system because of its potential to be a national model.

MedCall's primary purpose is to have information readily available to a physician within a minute or less. The four main functions of its applications are to provide: rapid medical information to physicians and clinicians; information on patient referrals and transfers; information on occupancy rate and bed availability at all UPMC hospitals; and to deploy a disaster management team if needed in the event of an emergency.

"During a disaster, every minute counts. The last thing physicians need are unnecessary roadblocks," says Robert J. Schwartz, M.D., M.P.H., director of physician relations for UPMC and medical director of MedCall. "The beauty of MedCall's service is that it eliminates the need for a physician to make 10 calls before they find the right person. This communication enhancement results in better patient care," adds Dr. Schwartz.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Related: Bioterrorism reponse


war in iraq