When a health epidemic strikes, will your hospital be ready? Bioterrorism, chemical emergencies, accidents with mass casualties, viral outbreaks, even natural disasters; there are many crises to prepare for.
To help hospitals plan for dealing with catastrophes, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has put together a number of resources including an entire page of emergency preparedness and response resources.
Additionally, the American Nurses Association (ANA) prepared a document, “Adapting standards of care under extreme conditions: Guidance for professionals during disasters, pandemics, and other extreme emergencies”, to guide facilities.
As part of hospital preparedness, the document states, nurses should be able to do the following:
No response to an extreme circumstance is complete until the participants have moved to the recovery phase, which includes
including reestablishing the medical and public health infrastructure disrupted by the disaster. This does not necessarily require fully returning to the pre-emergency status quo, but simply achieving a level of staffing and supplies that justifies returning to an ordinary level of care for most, if not all, patients, and re-directing those not being served locally to a suitable alternate facility. The recovery phase must also include collaboration across the community and consistent messages to the public about where and when to seek care.
Extreme conditions can arise with or without warning, due to weather, geology, utility failure, industrial explosion, accidents, or deliberate human action. The response of the entire health workforce may make the difference in the degree of suffering in
in the community, and the rate of recovery
Being ready to adapt and provide essential care under extreme conditions is the healthcare team's professional responsibility. Don't wait to consider possible scenarios in advance, formulate plans, and practice emergency drills.
Is your health care facility well-versed in the stages of the emergency preparedness routine? As a nurse, do you know your role?