Creating an Emergency Management Plan in Healthcare: Tips & Best Practices
Emergency preparedness training can be tricky. The common misconception is that it is only for professional companies or those awaiting the apocalypse.
The truth? Most healthcare facilities leave themselves badly exposed in the case of an emergency, which could cost them money but, more importantly, lives and resources.
To help fight this ongoing problem, we have created an industry-leading course covering all aspects of hospital disaster planning. Learning these tips and CMS requirements could save your business and life in an emergency.
The healthcare industry is not immune to emergencies, whether natural disasters, facility malfunctions, or public health crises like mass casualties. As such, healthcare organizations must have a comprehensive emergency management plan in place to ensure the safety of patients, staff, and visitors.
This blog post will discuss the best practices for creating effective emergency management planning in healthcare.
How to Create an Effective Emergency Management Plan
Identify Potential Hazards
The first step in creating an emergency management plan is identifying potential hazards that may affect your organization. This could include natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes and human-made disasters such as fires, chemical spills, radiation, or bioterrorism. Consider the location of your facility and the types of hazards that are most likely to occur in that area.
Once you have identified potential hazards, you can assess their risk to your organization. This will help you determine which threats are most likely to occur and which require the most attention in your emergency management plan.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CDC), the Joint Commission, and the Office of Emergency Preparedness of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services all have requirements depending on the type of healthcare facility.
CMS classifies emergency preparedness guidance into four categories:
- Risk assessment & emergency planning
- Communication plan
- Policies and procedures
- Training and testing
Having a plan is a requirement for all healthcare facilities. Ensure your institution and staff comply by enrolling in emergency preparedness training.
Develop Response Procedures
Once you have identified potential hazards, you can develop response procedures for each type of emergency. These procedures should outline the steps that staff should take in the event of an emergency, including evacuation procedures, communication protocols, and medical response plans.
Involve staff from all departments in developing response procedures to ensure everyone knows their role in an emergency. Regular training and drills can also help confirm that the team is prepared to respond appropriately in an emergency.
Establish Communication Protocols
Effective communication is essential in any emergency. This may include establishing a chain of command for communication, such as designating a single point of contact for all communications related to the crisis. It may also involve establishing communication channels such as text messaging or social media to ensure that information can be disseminated quickly and efficiently.
Technology can be a valuable tool in emergency management. For example, electronic health records can provide vital information about patients, such as medical history or medications, which is helpful in emergencies.
Additionally, technology such as hospital information systems and real-time location systems can be used to track the location of staff and equipment during emergencies. This can help ensure that staff and resources are deployed where needed most.
It is vital to ensure that essential operations continue functioning in an emergency. This may include ensuring that critical equipment such as generators or life support systems remains operational or that crucial medications and supplies are available.
To ensure continuity of operations, develop contingency plans for each department and function within your organization. This may involve identifying backup facilities or equipment or establishing alternate staffing plans.
Collaborate with External Partners
In some emergencies, it may be necessary to collaborate with external partners such as local emergency services or public health agencies (the police and fire department, toxicology, etc.). As such, it is crucial to establish relationships with these partners before an emergency occurs.
Collaboration with external partners may involve developing joint emergency response plans or participating in joint training and drills. It may also include sharing information and resources during an emergency to ensure a coordinated response.
Regularly Review and Update the Plan
An emergency management plan is not a one-time task. Be sure to review and update the plan annually to ensure preparedness regularly.
Preparedness assessments should include the following:
- Elements of disaster planning
- Emergency coordination
- An emergency management cycle
- Expansion of hospital surge capacity
- Availability of equipment
- Stockpiles of medical supplies
- Expansion of laboratory capacities
This may involve conducting regular audits or assessments of the plan and identifying areas for improvement. It may also include updating the program to reflect changes in regulations or best practices.
Creating an effective emergency management plan is critical for healthcare organizations to ensure the safety of patients, staff, and visitors. By identifying potential hazards, developing response procedures, establishing communication protocols, utilizing technology, ensuring continuity of operations, collaborating with external partners, and regularly reviewing and updating the plan, healthcare organizations can be better prepared to respond to emergencies.