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Proposed “Exposure And Symptom Triage” (EAST) Tool to Assess Radiation Exposure After a Nuclear Detonation

  • John L. Hick (a1), Judith L. Bader (a2), C. Norman Coleman (a3), Armin J. Ansari (a4), Arthur Chang (a4), Adela Salame-Alfie (a4), Dan Hanfling (a5) and John F. Koerner (a3)...
Abstract

One of the biggest medical challenges after the detonation of a nuclear device will be implementing a strategy to assess the severity of radiation exposure among survivors and to triage them appropriately. Those found to be at significant risk for radiation injury can be prioritized to receive potentially lifesaving myeloid cytokines and to be evacuated to other communities with intact health care infrastructure prior to the onset of severe complications of bone marrow suppression. Currently, the most efficient and accessible triage method is the use of sequential complete blood counts to assess lymphocyte depletion kinetics that correlate with estimated whole-body dose radiation exposure. However, even this simple test will likely not be available initially on the scale required to assess the at-risk population. Additional variables such as geographic location of exposure, sheltering, and signs and symptoms may be useful for initial sorting. An interdisciplinary working group composed of federal, state, and local public health experts proposes an Exposure And Symptom Triage (EAST) tool combining estimates of exposure from maps with clinical assessments and single lymphocyte counts if available. The proposed tool may help sort survivors efficiently at assembly centers near the damage and fallout zones and enable rapid prioritization for appropriate treatment and transport. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018; 12: 386–395)

Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to John L. Hick, MD, Hennepin County Medical Center, Emergency Medicine, 701 Park Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (e-mail: John.hick@hcmed.org).
References
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