Healthcare News & Insights

OIG: Less than half of states ready for the pandemic — is yours?

Perhaps you can never be 100% prepared for a massive health emergency. But a new OIG report indicates that many states and localities are falling well short of the mark in getting ready for a potential flu pandemic.

According to a sample survey by the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) most local and state agencies have made progress on federal regulations for preparing for H1N1 flu pandemic — but none have completed all the steps. With H1N1 already rippling through communities, the time to act is now.

Here’s how the weaknesses in the system broke down:

  • All of the sample states and cities had committees in place to plan for a pandemic and were including hospitals in that planning. But the amount of co-ordination between partner organizations was uneven.
  • Fewer than half of the localities were recruiting medical volunteers; none of the states had an electronic system in place to manage those recruits.
  • Every locality had procured at least some of the medical equipment needed to manage a pandemic. Only 60% of sampled states had electronic systems to track that equipment and available beds.
  • Most localities had made only preliminary plans for alternate care sites.
  • Most localities didn’t have guidelines for altering triage, admission or patient care procedures. Most of those who hadn’t set up guidelines cited liability concerns.
  • Although all localities had conducted medical surge exercises, none had consistently documented the lessons from those exercises.

To see the full report including OIG recommendations for improving the state of readiness, download the PDF: “State and Local Pandemic Influenza Preparedness.”

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