Tip of the Week: Report card: How well are hospitals prepared for emergencies?

Hospital Safety Insider, June 2, 2011

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The following is an excerpt from the May issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety

Study reveals some gaps in disaster plans

Although most hospitals have plans in place to respond to chemical releases, natural disasters, epidemics, and biological incidents, there are still some common gaps and shortcomings, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found. Many hospitals had no plans for certain types of disaster and frequently failed to address the particular needs of special populations, including children, the CDC analysis found.

In Hospital Preparedness for Emergency Response: United States, 2008, authors Richard W. Niska, MD, MPH, and Iris M. Shimizu, PhD, both of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, summarized hospital preparedness for responding to public health emergencies, including mass casualties and epidemics of naturally occurring diseases such as influenza. (Read the full report, released March 24 in National Health Statistics Reports, at )

The authors analyzed responses by 294 hospitals to the 2008 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which included a supplement on emergency response preparedness.

Sample data was weighted to produce national estimates, the report indicated.

The survey asked about the hospitals' plans to respond to six types of hazards: chemical accidents and attacks, natural disasters, epidemic or pandemic disease outbreaks, biological ¬accidents or attacks, nuclear or radiological events, and explosive or incendiary accidents or attacks.

Only about 68% of hospitals had plans for dealing with all six types of events, the study found.

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