A research report published in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine said that doctors might not be ready to deal with the threat of bio-terrorism that may be caused by smallpox, anthrax, botulism and plague.
More than one-half of 631 physicians tested were unable to correctly diagnose diseases caused by agents most likely to be used by bio-terrorists. However, test scores improved dramatically for the same physicians after they completed an online training course in diagnosing and managing these diseases caused by bio-terrorism agents, according to the study.
Preparation will be key to dealing with a major catastrophe, such as a major bio-terrorist attack. Education and training healthcare providers in disease recognition, treatment and prevention strategies have the potential to significantly limit the effects of a bio-terrorism attack., said the researchers.
In the study, 631 physicians at 30 internal medicine residency programs in 16 states and Washington, D.C. were tested on how to recognize and treat bio-terrorism-related diseases before and after taking an online course in bio-terrorism disease. On the pretest, correct diagnosis of diseases due to bio-terrorism agents was smallpox, 50.7 percent; anthrax, 70.5 percent; botulism, 49.6 percent; and plague, 16.3 percent (average 46.8 percent), the researchers report. Correct diagnosis averaged 79.0 percent after completion of the course. Correct management of smallpox in the pretest was 14.6 percent; anthrax, 17.0 percent; botulism, 60.2 percent; and plague 9.7 percent (average 25.4 percent). Correct management averaged 79.1 percent after course completion.