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Planning Preparedness Guidance

For private physician practices and clinics, there are several ways you can help after a disaster in your community. First, you must make sure your regular patients can be cared for. History shows people who are injured in a disaster are most likely going to try to go to the doctor or clinic they know. After you have a plan for what to do about your regular patients, then you can think about how you can help the larger community.

At-Risk Populations

Certain patients require a little extra thought and preparation for care after a disaster. When you are providing care for at-risk populations, make sure they have a plan for disaster response if they have to fend for themselves. Do they have extra medical supplies, medications or oxygen? Do they know who to call if they need help? Then keep a list of your priority at-risk patients so you know who is most likely to need help after a disaster.


After a disaster, some HIPAA regulations may be relaxed in order to locate displaced persons or to gain important health information about disaster victims.


Bioterrorism continues to be a threat to all communities in the United States. Sometimes bioterrorism attacks are announced by the perpetrators and sometimes they are not. You may be the first person to identify an unusual collection of symptoms in your patients. Many bioterrorism agents present initially with symptoms of influenza. Become familiar with the differential diagnosis for bioterrorism agents.

  • Anthrax is caused by a spore-forming bacterium. It mainly affects animals. Humans can become infected through contact with an infected animal or by inhaling spores.
  • The most likely form of plague for a terrorist to use is pneumonic plague.
  • Naturally occurring smallpox has been eradicated, but can now be manufactured in a laboratory. Servicemen being deployed overseas are being vaccinated against it.
  • Tularemia is also known as rabbit fever and is endemic in the southwestern United States.

There are several areas in Indiana populated by a variety of refugees. Do you know the languages the refugees in your community speak? Do you know the common medical conditions of the refugees? Based on their culture, what is the likely reaction going to be after a disaster?