Preparation for unexpected events is crucial in a hospital setting. Early last month, NAHAM News wrote about the role that Electronic Health Records played in maintaining consistency and aiding treatment in the aftermath of the Moore, Oklahoma tornados (Electronic Health Records Prove Useful in a Disaster). In this week’s Physician’s Blog, the Joint Commission emphasized that point in an article where emergency medical physician Dr. Daniel Castillo writes about how physician’s preparations before, and actions after the Boston bombings can be applied to other emergencies.
Dr. Castillo pointed to Dr. Paul Biddinger, the medical director for emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General, who happened to be working at one of the medical tents set up along the marathon. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Dr. Biddinger stated that “[For] a couple of people who went to the operating room first, truly minutes mattered. If this hadn’t gone smoothly – from the marathon itself, to the transport, to the care in the hospital – had not every single step been perfect, they would have died…we have a couple of people that lived because the system worked the way it did.’’
From this real world emergency situation, Dr. Castillo concluded that simulated exercises are necessary so that all involved are familiar with procedures and ready to go in the event of an emergency.
The Joint Commission outlines processes that must be in place to help manage these rare, yet catastrophic events. They report that their Emergency Management chapter has been built over the years by gathering experts in the field as well as communicating with, and learning from, organizations that have previously had to mitigate these disasters. Their emphasis is always on planning. Planning allows the organization, along with its community, to put together a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) that can then be tested several times each year.
Fortunately, these tragic events are uncommon, but it is only through training that hospitals can be prepared, and preparedness is crucial when every second counts.