Hospitals have the responsibility to build a solid emergency preparedness system that assures their resources availability and capabilities to respond effectively to any type of incident.
Hospitals are a critical element within the disaster medical response system. They must work closely with the local government, and other organizations to plan, prepare and respond to any public health emergencies. Therefore, hospital emergency preparedness is the main priority at any state level.
Emergency preparedness focuses on preparing the organization to save lives during certain types of incidents that could exceed the day-to-day capacity and emergency response capabilities of a hospital.
When an impactful incident occurs, authorities usually don’t immediately alert hospitals as part of the response communications process. This translates into hospitals potentially getting caught off guard by the sudden arrival of new patients. This unwarned situation forces them to quickly go from normal operations to the relevant emergency response plan.
During an incident, managing and making sure that all hospital personnel and resources are fully prepared is a serious logistical challenge. Current and potential patients must be taken care of, while also assuring the safety of all patients and professionals.
Planning is key
Hospitals, in general, are required to have emergency operations plans due to liability risks and best response practices. These plans take into account the different emergency scenarios that could potentially occur, all of the people that can be affected as well as the resources and personnel needed to properly administer care.
Emergency preparedness is a key element of a successful response plan.
Emergency preparedness areas
In order to be prepared for any type of emergency, hospitals have the duty to build strong emergency preparedness within a response system that assures their resources availability and preparedness.
These are the two main areas for hospitals to focus on to improve their emergency preparedness:
- Human preparedness; exercises, training, and availability:
Conducting exercises and training is a critical element of preparedness. All human resources must be trained and understand what to do when an emergency occurs.
They must be provided with opportunities to practice their emergency response roles so they are well prepared to perform those response duties for any and all hazards.
What is involved? Record, describe, engage and communicate human resources. Build a skillful and experienced response organization through continuous training and skill refreshments/upgrades. And activating and dispatching human resources based on availability and preparedness.
- Tools and technical equipment preparedness; inventory, maintenance, and availability:
Hospitals have equipment and resources that can be deployed to increase their ability to respond to an emergency.
They key is to establish, grow, and maintain their preparedness across the entire equipment cache.
What is involved? Describing, preparing, inventorying and tracking of resources (equipment use, loss, inspections, repairs, retirement, activating and dispatching resources).
Hospital emergency preparedness competencies
To carry out a fully emergency preparedness and response plan, it is important to understand the main competencies required to achieve this. These core competencies provide the emergency preparedness and response knowledge, skills and abilities needed to successfully respond at any type of emergency.
Implementing these resources competencies will guide hospitals in the development, implementation, coordination, and evaluation of emergency preparedness across their organization.
Below you can see an example of hospital emergency preparedness competencies divided into three different levels (*Note that those are just examples and can vary depending on the organizational characteristics and needs) :
- Acquire personal preparedness; skills, training, exercises.
- Define personnel roles and responsibilities.
- Know what resources are available and prepared during an emergency.
- Describe how to conserve available resources.
- Leadership level within the department.
- Department role within the hospital.
- Know what emergency equipment is operational and ready-to-respond.
- Set-up triggers for requesting additional resources.
- Identify accessible sources of emergency supplies due to increased demand.
- Communicate protocol for prioritization and allocation of scarce resources.
- Leadership level within the hospital.
- Hospital role within the community.
- Coordinate key information with external authorities.
- Conduct annual re-evaluation and report.
Risk reduction for an effective emergency preparedness
Emergency preparedness is about managing risk, not only incidents.
In order to reduce risks, an organization must avoid generating new risks, address pre-existing risks, and prevent incident losses.
Risk reduction on an emergency preparedness context can be accomplished, mainly, in three phases:
– Preparedness: This phase encircles all those measures taken before an incident occurs, and has the objective of minimizing loss of life/property and critical services disruption. Hospital preparedness is basically a protective process. Readiness includes the maintenance of inventories/equipment, training of manpower, etc.
– Prevention: Activities and measures to avoid existing and new disaster risks.
– Mitigation: Mitigation includes all measures taken to reduce both the effect of hazards itself
and the conditions in order to reduce the losses.
Hospital emergency preparedness system envisioned
Emergency preparedness is achieved, and maintained, through a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking corrective action.
The illustration below shows how an existing hospital emergency strategy and capabilities can be unified into a single preparedness system:
Hospitals emergency preparedness solution
We have learned the importance of emergency preparedness, therefore it is now understandable why It is crucial for a hospital to deploy a dedicated and reliable emergency preparedness solution specifically built to enhance their emergency preparedness and response capabilities.
Due to the complex nature of emergency preparedness, a dedicated software solution is by far the most effective and reliable solution. An effective healthcare preparedness software ensures that there are capacity and capability for provision of critical resources in order to reduce the potential for adverse outcomes during an emergency.
D4H readiness software for hospitals provides a complete information management system that helps professionalize their response team to the highest standards.
D4H helps hospitals to ensure their emergency response personnel and equipment are in a permanent state of preparedness. It achieves this by moving their records, scheduling, qualifications, inspections, and inventories into a secure and reliable cloud software, adding proactive alerts and reminders, and making the entire experience collaborative.
A powerful readiness system like D4H allows hospitals to visualize their entire organization preparedness in a single dashboard, and get proactively notified when something needs action.
It can be described as peace-of-mind technology.