Objective: To investigate the impact in an aging society of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake on hospitalisation for respiratory disease at the disaster base hospital. Design: Descriptive and cross-sectional study. Setting: Emergency care in Japanese Red Cross Ishinomaki Hospital, a regional disaster base hospital in Miyagi, Japan. Participants: 322 emergency patients who were hospitalised for respiratory disease from 11 March to 9 May 2011, and 99 and 105 emergency patients who were hospitalised in the corresponding periods in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Main outcome measures: Description and comparison of patient characteristics and disease distribution in terms of age, time after the disaster and activities of daily living (ADL). Results: 1769 emergency patients were admitted to our hospital during the study period (compared to 850 in 2009 and 1030 in 2010), among whom 322 were hospitalised for respiratory disease (compared to 99 in 2009 and 105 in 2010). Pneumonia (n=190, 59.0%) was the most frequent cause of admission for pulmonary disease, followed by acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AE-COPD) (n=53, 16.5%), asthma attacks (n=27, 8.4%) and progression of lung cancer (n=22, 6.8%). Compared with the corresponding periods in 2009 and 2010, the increase in the absolute numbers of admissions was highest for pneumonia, followed by AE-COPD and asthma attacks. At hospitalisation, 195 patients were 'dependent' and 54 patients were 'partially dependent'. Respiratory admissions accompanied by deterioration of ADL after the disaster were more frequent in elderly and female patients. Conclusions: After the Great East Japan Earthquake, admissions for pneumonia and exacerbation of chronic respiratory disease in the elderly increased at the disaster base hospital.
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