The origins of hospital emergency management

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

January 28, 2015

The images are periodic but impactful. A flood, tornado, active shooter, hurricane, earthquake, fire, or other hazard strikes a community, and within the hospital its personnel immerse themselves in tasks for which they were not trained and have not exercised. The airwaves are saturated with tales of evacuating preemies, ICU patients, and moms in labor down darkened stairwells; chaos with no one in charge; surgery conducted by flashlight; and harried hospital staff bemoaning that they didn't know what to do. A media conference is held and the CEO, a physician-looking person in a white lab coat, and the public information officer describe how harrowing the event was, but reiterate that the staff pulled through and showed their mettle.


Now imagine a different scene: It’s Monday morning in the hospital board (or executive conference) room, and senior leadership is contemplating budgets for next year. The VP in charge of facilities, EH&S, security, and EVS has a laundry list—as does the director in charge of quality, compliance, and infection control/prevention. Somewhere in the mix the executive whose responsibility includes emergency management has a request for planning, training, and/or exercising, as do other departments. 

The executive responsible for emergency management has 10 other priorities that he or she considers to be important. Meanwhile, the chief of a medical specialty department is desirous to offer a new procedure that requires a specialized piece of equipment, and the “return on investment” briefing submitted indicates enhanced revenues and standing in the community. After the meeting, the person responsible for emergency management is told that there just was not any discretionary funding available.

This is an excerpt from an article in Briefings on Hospital Safety. Visit here to log in or subscribe.