A scoping review of internal hospital crises and disasters in the Netherlands, 2000-2020

Vincent W. Klokman, Dennis G. Barten*, Nathalie A. L. R. Peters, Marieke G. J. Versteegen, Jaap J. J. Wijnands, Frits H. M. van Osch, Menno I. Gaakeer, Edward C. T. H. Tan, Arjen Boin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Background Internal hospital crises and disasters (IHCDs) are events that disrupt the routine functioning of a hospital while threatening the well-being of patients and staff. IHCDs may cause hospital closure, evacuations of patients and loss of healthcare capacity. The consequences may be ruinous for local communities. Although IHCDs occur with regularity, information on the frequency and types of these events is scarcely published in the medical literature. However, gray literature and popular media reports are widely available. We therefore conducted a scoping review of these literature sources to identify and characterize the IHCDs that occurred in Dutch hospitals from 2000 to 2020. The aim is to develop a systematic understanding of the frequency of the various types of IHCDs occurring in a prosperous nation such as the Netherlands.

Methods A systematic scoping review of news articles retrieved from the LexisNexis database, Google, Google News, PubMed and EMBASE between 2000 and 2020. All articles mentioning the closure of a hospital department in the Netherlands were analyzed.

Results A total of 134 IHCDs were identified in a 20-year time period. Of these IHCDs, there were 96 (71.6%) emergency department closures, 76 (56.7%) operation room closures, 56 (41.8%) evacuations, 26 (17.9%) reports of injured persons, and 2 (1.5%) reported casualties. Cascading events of multiple failures transpired in 39 (29.1%) IHCDs. The primary causes of IHCDs (as reported) were information and communication technology (ICT) failures, technical failures, fires, power failures, and hazardous material warnings. An average of 6.7 IHCDs occurred per year. From 2000-2009 there were 32 IHCDs, of which one concerned a primary ICT failure. Of the 102 IHCDs between 2010-2019, 32 were primary ICT failures.

Conclusions IHCDs occur with some regularity in the Netherlands and have marked effects on hospital critical care departments, particularly emergency departments. Cascading events of multiple failures transpire nearly a third of the time, limiting the ability of a hospital to stave off closure due to failure. Emergency managers should therefore prioritize the risk of ICT failures and cascading events and train hospital staff accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0250551
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021



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