To aid development of contingency plans, a cross-sectional survey of inpatient needs in the event of a total hospital evacuation within a few hours was undertaken. The hospital is a part of a tertiary care facility with a mixed surgical and medical population and a relatively large load of emergency medicine. A doctor or nurse on each ward registered patients' physical mobility, special needs complicating transportation (intensive care, labor, isolation, etc), and the lowest acceptable level of care after evacuation. Of the 760 included patients, 57.8 percent could walk, 20.0 percent needed wheelchair, and 22.2 percent needed transport on stretcher. Special needs were registered for 18.2 percent of patients. Only 49.7 percent of patients needed to be evacuated to another hospital to continue care on an acceptable level, while 37.6 percent could be discharged to their own home, and 12.6 percent could be evacuated to a nursing home. Patients in psychiatric wards and high dependency units had distinctly different needs than patients in ordinary somatic wards. The differences between patients in surgical and nonsurgical wards were minor. Patient discharge seems to be a considerable capacity buffer in a hospital crisis situation.