Safety

Federal government asks U.S. hospitals to hone emergency plans

Hospital Safety Insider, March 13, 2014

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In legislation that could affect 68,000 hospitals and healthcare institutions and cost $225 million, the federal government is proposing rule changes that would require hospitals, nursing facilities, and group homes to have plans to maintain emergency lighting, fire safety systems, and sewage and waste disposal during power losses, reports the New York Times.

The new requirements were proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in December, and are meant to prevent the disruption of hospital services on a mass scale such as that experienced during disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and in New York City during Hurricane Sandy, according to the Times. [What’s the next step for the proposal? Just need a line here saying what happens next.]
 
The rule, which may not be finalized for three years, would require hospitals to track displaced patients, provide care at alternate sites, and handle volunteers. Home healthcare agencies would be required to help patients create personalized disaster plans, while hospices and others caring for frail, homebound patients would need procedures to help rescuers locate them.
 
The Times also reports that one of the most contested of the requirements calls for hospitals and nursing homes to test backup generators for extended periods at least yearly rather than once every three years, as is currently recommended, a move that could involve significant fuel and labor costs.



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