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Point-of-care testing for disasters: needs assessment, strategic planning, and future design.

  • Author(s): Kost, Gerald J
  • Hale, Kristin N
  • Brock, T Keith
  • Louie, Richard F
  • Gentile, Nicole L
  • Kitano, Tyler K
  • Tran, Nam K
  • et al.

Objective evidence-based national surveys serve as a first step in identifying suitable point-of-care device designs, effective test clusters, and environmental operating conditions. Preliminary survey results show the need for point-of-care testing (POCT) devices using test clusters that specifically detect pathogens found in disaster scenarios. Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in southeast Asia, and the current influenza pandemic (H1N1, "swine flu") vividly illustrate lack of national and global preparedness. Gap analysis of current POCT devices versus survey results reveals how POCT needs can be fulfilled. Future thinking will help avoid the worst consequences of disasters on the horizon, such as extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis and pandemic influenzas. A global effort must be made to improve POC technologies to rapidly diagnose and treat patients to improve triaging, on-site decision making, and, ultimately, economic and medical outcomes.

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