BACKGROUND: Immediately after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, plastic surgeons provided disaster relief services through the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for 5 months. To improve surgical care and promote awareness of plastic surgery's role in humanitarian assistance, an online communication platform (OCP) was initiated. An OCP is a Web-based application combining Web blogging, picture uploading, news posting, and private messaging systems into a single platform. The purpose of this study was to analyze the use of OCP during disaster relief. METHODS: Surgeries performed during the period from January 13 to May 28, 2010, were documented. The OCP was established with 4 priorities: ease of use, multimedia integration, organization capabilities, and security. Web traffic was documented. A 17-question survey was administered to 18 plastic surgeons who used the OCP after 1 year to assess their attitudes and perceptions. RESULTS: From January 13 to May 28, 2010, 413 operations were performed at the field hospital. Of the overall number of procedures, 46.9% were performed by plastic surgery teams. In a year, beginning from January 12, 2011, the OCP had 1117 visits with 530 absolute unique visitors. Of 17 plastic surgeons, 71% responded that the OCP improved follow-up and continuity of care by debriefing rotating plastic surgery teams. One hundred percent claimed that the OCP conveyed the role of plastic surgeons with the public. CONCLUSIONS: Results demonstrate the necessity of OCP during disaster relief. Online communication platform permitted secure exchange of surgical management details, follow-up, photos, and miscellaneous necessary recommendations. Posted experiences and field hospital progress assisted in generating substantial awareness regarding the significant role and contribution played by plastic surgeons in disaster relief.
- Extended disaster relief
- HAITI earthquake
- Online communication
- Plastic surgery international mission
ASJC Scopus subject areas