Health Information Management

Ensure compliance with IM.01.01.03 to prepare for disasters and other emergencies

HIM-HIPAA Insider, April 14, 2009

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Develop worst-case scenarios similar to the one described and train staff members at all levels of the organization and on all shifts on how to respond.

Consider the following scenario: An earthquake has struck a large city at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, making the information systems inoperable. There is no communication outside the hospital, and although the emergency generator is working, no leadership or staff members can access the facility. The only staff members on duty are the night staff and one supervisor. Two physicians are covering the ER. What is the organization’s emergency plan?

Include the HIM department in the plans for continuity of information management processes. Consider asking HIM personnel to work in the emergency command center. Ask the following questions:

  • Who will issue medical record numbers and how?
  • Who will develop and supply downtime medical record documentation forms?
  • How will you document information in the electronic record after systems are back up and running?
  • What is the process to protect paper medical records from fire and water damage?

The organization may also want to analyze scheduled and unscheduled downtimes to identify opportunities for improvement in the staff’s response.

Editor’s note: This tip was adapted from the April issue of Medical Records Briefing.

 



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