The Benefits of Having an Emergency Preparedness Plan for Healthcare Organizations

Healthcare organizations must be prepared for any emergency situation that may arise. Developing an emergency operations plan before a real situation occurs allows staff to identify potential problems and refine processes. With the growing awareness of the importance of health facility response to emergencies, many are reevaluating and updating their existing emergency preparedness plans. The four main elements of emergency management for health facilities are mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Patient safety must always be the top priority. For procedural subspecialties, such as mine, 80% of patients can be delayed if necessary during an emergency, while 20% need immediate treatment. It is important that departments and subsections quickly classify patients from the start to reduce panic during emergencies. This also helps ensure that those who need to be taken care of right away have that opportunity. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers online public health emergency preparedness tools, including a module-based approach to evaluating hospital disaster drills. Each workplace is unique, so a thorough evaluation of its configuration and staff will help identify what types of emergency situations could occur and develop an accurate emergency action plan. COVID-19 is not likely to be an isolated event, so it is important to consider a tiered preparedness system in which each hospital and each community has a basic level of preparedness, but certain large institutions are designated as regional centers specializing in disasters.

Federally identified states of emergency occur more than many of us think. The availability of health services is essential to adapt to the increase in demand that accompanies an emergency or disaster. Make sure your emergency preparedness plan has locations correctly identified so that all employees know where to go based on each potential incident. Staff attending emergency response appointments must communicate effectively with patients, staff, external emergency response staff, interested parties, and more. Pandemic preparedness varies dramatically from the preparedness needed for other emergencies, including natural disasters. Hospitals need a communications officer who is responsible for interacting with emergency response agencies, outside aid agencies, other hospitals and clinics, and law enforcement.

There are many resources available to help health professionals and hospital administrators develop effective and up-to-date emergency response plans.

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