Safety

New CMS rule could change hospital emergency plans

Hospital Safety Insider, June 5, 2014

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A proposed new emergency management rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could mean sweeping reforms that would require hospitals to prove they could stay open and operating during even the most unforeseen catastrophes.

The federal government's proposed rule change would require hospitals, nursing facilities, and group homes to have plans in place to maintain emergency lighting, fire safety systems, and sewage and waste disposal during power losses, according to a New York Times report in early March. The legislation could affect 68,000 hospitals and healthcare institutions nationwide and cost $225 million.

The proposed rule, which was in the public comment phase until the end of March and may not be finalized for three years, would require hospitals to track displaced patients, provide care at alternate sites, and handle volunteers, among other things. Home health care 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.

Although many safety experts say it's always a good idea to improve emergency preparedness in hospitals, there is a collective fear that a new expensive-at-best, impossible-at-worst rule would put severe financial strain on hospitals already struggling to keep up with CMS requirements to maintain Medicare funding.

This is an excerpt from an article in the upcoming June issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety. Visit here to log in or subscribe.

 



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