: Managing mass casualty or disaster incidents is challenging to any person or organisation. Therefore, this paper identifies and describes common challenges to managing such situations, using case and lessons learned reports. It focuses on sudden onset, man-made or technologically caused mass casualty or disaster situations. Methods
: A management review was conducted based on a structured search in the PubMed and Web of Science databases. Results
: The review included 20 case—and lessons learned reports covering natural disasters, man-made events, and accidents across Europe, the United States of Amerika (USA), Asia and the Middle East. Five common challenges were identified: (1) to identify the situation and deal with uncertainty, (2) to balance the mismatch between the contingency plan and the reality, (3) to establish a functional crisis organization, (4) to adapt the medical response to the actual and overall situation and (5) to ensure a resilient response. Conclusions
: The challenges when managing mass casualty or disaster events involved were mainly related to the ability to manage uncertainty and surprising situations, using structured processes to respond. The ability to change mind set, organization and procedures, both from an organizational- and individual perspective, was essential. Non-medical factors and internal factors influenced the medical management. In order to respond in an effective, timely and resilient way, all these factors should be taken into consideration.
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