An Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Los Angeles (California USA) Hospitals, Wildfires Highest Priority
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 June 2017
Although many studies have delineated the variety and magnitude of impacts that climate change is likely to have on health, very little is known about how well hospitals are poised to respond to these impacts.
The hypothesis is that most modern hospitals in urban areas in the United States need to augment their current disaster planning to include climate-related impacts.
Using Los Angeles County (California USA) as a case study, historical data for emergency department (ED) visits and projections for extreme-heat events were used to determine how much climate change is likely to increase ED visits by mid-century for each hospital. In addition, historical data about the location of wildfires in Los Angeles County and projections for increased frequency of both wildfires and flooding related to sea-level rise were used to identify which area hospitals will have an increased risk of climate-related wildfires or flooding at mid-century.
Only a small fraction of the total number of predicted ED visits at mid-century would likely to be due to climate change. By contrast, a significant portion of hospitals in Los Angeles County are in close proximity to very high fire hazard severity zones (VHFHSZs) and would be at greater risk to wildfire impacts as a result of climate change by mid-century. One hospital in Los Angeles County was anticipated to be at greater risk due to flooding by mid-century as a result of climate-related sea-level rise.
This analysis suggests that several Los Angeles County hospitals should focus their climate-change-related planning on building resiliency to wildfires.
- Original Research
- © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2017
Conflicts of interest: none.