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In our November 1, 2016 Patient Safety Tip of the Week “CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule” we discussed hospital emergency plans or disaster plans. But most such plans have dealt with acute emergencies that are of limited duration. How many of you have updated your emergency preparedness plan or disaster plan for dealing with pandemics?
Disaster plans may take into account potential sudden influx of patients and need to rapidly mobilize excess staff for disasters such as a mass casualty accident or a mass hazardous material exposure. But those are limited to short timeframes. The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive influx of patients for long periods of time and resulted in significant workload burdens and staff shortages over the long haul.
Wei and colleagues recently published “Nine Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic for Improving Hospital Care and Health Care Delivery” (Wei 2021). It includes a valuable table containing elements to include in a hospital disaster plan for dealing with increased volume of patients or workforce shortages. Elements in that table are:
The table and text outline considerations for each of those elements.
Given that the COVID-19 pandemic may not be over yet and there may well be a surge this fall (or a new pandemic in the future), you really need to address all these elements in your emergency preparedness or disaster plans.
Go to the Wei paper for its excellent recommendations, not only on the disaster plan elements, but also on each of their 9 lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic:
And, if you are a teaching hospital, you also need to consider how a long pandemic will impact your training programs. A timely “Checklist Framework for Surgical Education Disaster Plans” (Matthews 2021) provides good recommendations for surgical residency programs but many of the recommendations could apply equally to other residency programs as well.
Wei EK, Long T, Katz MH. Nine Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic for Improving Hospital Care and Health Care Delivery. JAMA Intern Med 2021; Published online July 23, 2021
Matthews JB, Blair PG, Ellison EC, et al. Checklist Framework for Surgical Education Disaster Plans. Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2021; Published online: July 12, 2021
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