We don’t want to give you a retroactive headache, asking you to think of a hectic and scary time in your hospital’s past, but . . . if you can suffer and stay with us for the next few hundred words, your hospital will be better equipped to handle its next emergency.
You can learn from your past, especially when it comes to how your hospital reacted to its last emergency. We are not talking about emergencies in the traditional sense (ambulance, emergency room, etc.) but in the crazy, once-a-decade, natural disaster sense. We are talking about what you did when a hurricane hit your hospital, an earthquake shook its very foundation, or a power outage put the entire hospital in darkness for an extended period of time.
Those are the worst emergencies, because they affect every single thing in your hospital: every process, every medication, and every patient. Our first question to you: ”How did you react last time there was an emergency?” Our second question: ”Can you do better?”
If you answered yes to the second question, below are some key points in your hospital’s history to look over and update before disaster strikes.
Dust off that old binder or scroll through that old PDF! Your hospital’s emergency plan, or emergency plans, should be updated every six months. When was the last time you looked it over? This plan is the document that will guide all the people in your hospital in case of an emergency, and it should be treated with such importance. Possible areas for improvement include:
- Distribution: In the last emergency, did your hospital emergency plan reach all the people it was supposed to reach?
- Synchronization: In the last emergency, did the correct pieces of the emergency plan reach all of the correct people?
- Application: In the last emergency, were all parts of the emergency plan followed? How applicable was the content?
Emergency Plan Coordinator and Back-up Coordinator
This is quickly becoming an issue for not just two people, but the entire hospital. Your hospital’s Emergency Plan Coordinator is probably someone like the Chief of Medicine, but that is for the large-scale hospital functions, not the finite details. Individual departments should have their Emergency Plan Coordinators and Back-up Coordinators, and essential processes should have them as well.
Our final piece of advice, when looking through the scariest parts of your hospital’s history, is to look at how critical vaccines, medications, and supplies were stored during an emergency. In many, many emergencies, power to your hospital is cut off, and falls on back-up generators (or worse, nothing at all) to supply the hospital with electricity. Patients are usually the first to be transported and taken care of, which makes sense. But, the most important medicine for those patients should be one of the next areas of highest concern.