The medical decision model and decision maker tools for management of radiological and nuclear incidents

John F. Koerner, C. Norman Coleman, Paula Murrain-Hill, Denis J. Fitzgerald, Julie M. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Effective decision making during a rapidly evolving emergency such as a radiological or nuclear incident requires timely interim decisions and communications from onsite decision makers while further data processing, consultation, and review are ongoing by reachback experts. The authors have recently proposed a medical decision model for use during a radiological or nuclear disaster, which is similar in concept to that used in medical care, especially when delay in action can have disastrous effects. For decision makers to function most effectively during a complex response, they require access to onsite subject matter experts who can provide information, recommendations, and participate in public communication efforts. However, in the time before this expertise is available or during the planning phase, just-in-time tools are essential that provide critical overview of the subject matter written specifically for the decision makers. Recognizing the complexity of the science, risk assessment, and multitude of potential response assets that will be required after a nuclear incident, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, in collaboration with other government and non-government experts, has prepared a practical guide for decision makers. This paper illustrates how the medical decision model process could facilitate onsite decision making that includes using the deliberative reachback process from science and policy experts and describes the tools now available to facilitate timely and effective incident management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-651
Number of pages7
JournalHealth physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Accidents
  • Emergencies
  • Nuclear
  • Power reactor
  • Radiological
  • Risk communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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