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close this bookMitigation of Disasters in Health Facilities: Volume 2: Administrative Issues (PAHO-OPS, 1993, 74 p.)
close this folderChapter 4: Vulnerability of hospitals
View the documentVulnerable aspects of hospitals
View the documentFunctional vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsNon-structural vulnerability
View the documentStructural vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsEvaluation of vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsReduction of existing vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsNew designs for hospitals

Functional vulnerability

From the functional point of view, we should mention a hospital's external characteristics such as the selection of the land, its size, the public services available, environmental restrictions, adjacent roads and their connection to the urban street network. It is also necessary to deal with general physical layout, that is, with the interrelationships between areas, with the primary and secondary, private and public corridors within the hospital, and with public and private access to the basic areas which make up the hospital. Finally, one should take into account physical layout in areas not open to the public, that is, the internal functioning of each of the five sectors that make up the hospital.

A hospital building is composed of five basic areas, each of which has very specific functions, but which in turn must interact with other areas in ways which are vital if a hospital is to operate properly. The relations between such areas or sectors - Administration, Ambulatory Care Units, General Services, Outpatient Consultation and Emergency Services, and Inpatient Care Units - can be critical if the original design failed to consider their function and distribution in the case of a sudden influx of patients. A hospital can suffer a "functional collapse" as a result of this situation, which is only detected at the time an emergency occurs. In addition to the above mentioned areas, it is important to have an external services area, which plays a particularly important role in dealing with disasters.