Over the past few years, the U.S. has experienced a record number of destructive natural disasters and, sadly, in recent years manmade disasters such as bomb incidents and active shooting events have increased dramatically creating new worst-case scenarios that every healthcare organization must consider in their evacuation planning.
Disasters disrupt the environment of care provided to patients, making it essential that health care providers and suppliers ensure that emergency management is integrated into their daily functions and values.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have determined that current emergency preparedness regulatory requirements are not comprehensive enough to address the complexities of actual emergencies. In fact, the CMS believes that in the event of a disaster, health care providers and suppliers across the country would not have the necessary emergency planning and preparation in place to adequately protect the health and safety of their patients.
The proposed regulations for 17 provider types would provide generally consistent emergency preparedness requirements, enhance patient safety during emergencies for persons served by Medicare- and Medicaid-participating facilities, and establish a more coordinated and defined response to natural and man-made disasters. Ultimately, the benefits of this proposed rule would reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity associated with disasters.
The CMS has identified provisions for the four elements of an emergency preparedness program:
- Risk assessment and planning
- Policies and procedures
- Communication plan
- Training and testing
The last element is critical because evacuations do not happen in perfect conditions and it’s important for healthcare organizations to conduct training and drills as realistically as possible.
The CMS and HHS encourage individuals and organizations to submit comments no later than 5pm on 2/25 – visit www/regulations.gov and follow the “submit a comment” instructions – refer to file code CMS-3178-P