menu ☰
menu ˟

Change of access to emergency care in a repopulated village after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster: a retrospective observational study

09 Feb 2019

Objectives

Sustaining emergency care access is of great concern. The aim of this study is to evaluate access to emergency care in a repopulated village following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Design

This research was a retrospective observational study. The primary outcome measure was total emergency medical services (EMS) time. A Bayesian time series analysis was performed to consider local time series trend and seasonality.

Setting

The residents in Kawauchi Village, Fukushima, Japan were forced to evacuate after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. As the radiation dose was an acceptable level, the residents began the process of repopulation in April 2012.

Participants

This study included patients transported by EMS from January 2009 to October 2015. Patients transported during the evacuation period (from March 2011 to March 2012) were excluded.

Results

A total of 781 patients were transferred by EMS (281 patients before the disaster, 416 after repopulation and 84 during the evacuation period). A Bayesian time series analysis revealed an increase in total EMS time, from the first request call to arrival at a hospital of 21.85 min (95% credible interval 14.2–29.0, Bayesian one-sided tail-area probability p=0.001). After the disaster, 42.3% of patients were transported to a partner hospital.

Conclusions

Total EMS time increased after repopulation of the area affected because of a massive number of hospital closures. Proactive partnerships would be a possible countermeasure in the affected areas after a major disaster.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open