Disaster Preparation in Hospitals: Is Your Hospital Ready?
Written by Angie Mansfield
Are You Truly Ready for an Emergency?
As a hospital worker or administrator, you know how important it is to be prepared in case of emergencies such as natural disasters.
But, while you may have a plan in place that meets state licensure or JCAHO requirements, your plan may not go far enough in the event of a major emergency.
Here are a few tips to make sure your disaster plan keeps you and your staff truly prepared:
Create a Committee
A disaster planning committee should be responsible for creating and implementing your hospital's disaster plan. The committee should include representatives from all departments in the hospital, including medical staff, administration, nursing staff, security, and communications.
By having a rep from every department, you'll be sure that every department's needs are addressed in your disaster plan.
Start Formulating a Plan
Once formed, your committee should consider every type of disaster your hospital may face.
Depending on your geographic location, this could mean hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and more.
Next, have the committee assess your hospital's ability to handle a disaster, looking for any potential problem areas and concerns that need to be addressed. Inspect the entire hospital property and determine how a disaster might affect the building. Think about how health care will be provided during adverse conditions.
Things to Look For
Specific areas to look for during the assessment include:
* Does the property have a well connected to the emergency generator?
* If the local water supply is interrupted, how will water be rationed?
* Do any outside triage areas have sufficient power connected to the emergency generator?
* How will you provide food for everyone if it becomes difficult or impossible to leave the hospital grounds for several days?
* Do you have enough supplies on hand to keep the hospital going for at least 72 hours after a major disaster?
Cooperation with Other Agencies
Your disaster plan needs to address how your hospital will work with outside agencies to ensure enough supplies and evacuation abilities for the area. One way to do this is to form partnerships with other area hospitals to exchange personnel, equipment, and other needed items.
You'll also need to consider patients who may not be in the hospital at the time of the emergency, such as dialysis patients treated on an outpatient basis.
By discussing plans with family members to evacuate these patients, and ensuring you'll be able to quickly provide their locations to emergency agencies, you can improve these patients' chances of reaching safety and treatment.
Include the Aftermath in Your Plan
Many disaster plans only cover the actual emergency, and not the mountain of work your hospital will face once the danger is over. You'll have to have a complete inventory of all hospital assets to give to insurance agents in case of damage.
Have a plan in place for who will conduct post-emergency property assessments and file damage claims with your insurance carrier.
It will take time to come up with a comprehensive disaster plan that will ensure your hospital is ready for anything.
But if an emergency should strike, this planning phase will be more than worth it.
About the Author
Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of topics for both individuals and small business owners. Her work addresses such things as management, marketing, and social media recruitment.