Healthcare News & Insights

Emergency planning: Many hospitals fall short

One-third — or more — of hospitals have glaring gaps in their emergency response plans.

A recent report found that virtually all hospitals have some kind of plan in place — that’s the good news. Unfortunately, when researchers reviewed information about plans to make sure they covered six key types of events  (epidemic-pandemic disease outbreaks, bioterror attacks, chemical accidents and attacks, nuclear-radiological events, large explosions and fires, and major natural disasters) they found that most hospitals had made one or more significant omissions. For example:

  • Only 68% of hospitals had plans for dealing with all six events. The most frequently overlooked events,  explosive-incendiary and nuclear-radiological events, were omitted in roughly 20% of plans. In comparison, more than  95% of hospitals had plans for natural disasters or chemical incidents.
  • Although 88% of hospitals have written agreements with other hospitals to accept adult patients when  overloaded, only  56% had similar arrangements for pediatric patients.
  • More than 40% of hospitals had no agreements with burn centers to take casualties from explosions and fires.
  • About 25% of hospitals had no plans to expand capacity to cope with large numbers of casualties, and just under 40% had plans to expand morgue capacity in an emergency.

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