AHRQ publishes hospital disaster supplements

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has published two new guides to help hospital administrators make decisions concerning staff and patient safety when a natural or manmade disaster or other catastrophic event occurs.

The AHRQ's Hospital Evacuation Decision Guide is designed to:

  • Provide hospital evacuation decision teams with systematic guidance on how to consider the many factors in the decision to order an evacuation; and
  • Identify some of the specific situations, often overlooked, that may exist in a facility or geographic area that could affect the decision to evacuate.

No single algorithm could capture all of the nuances involved in the evacuation decision or the myriad different disaster scenarios that may lead to a hospital evacuation; therefore, the guide does not recommend or present best practices for carrying out an evacuation or for sheltering-in-place during and after a disaster, other than to stress the critical need for comprehensive plans for both evacuating patients and for sheltering-in-place.

The second publication, the Hospital Assessment and Recovery Guide, helps hospitals determine when to get back into a hospital after an evacuation. Comprised primarily of a 45-page checklist, the guide covers 11 separate areas of hospital infrastructure components, such as security and fire safety, health IT and communication and biomedical engineering that should be evaluated before determining that it is safe to reoccupy a facility.

The guides examine how hospital personnel have coped under emergency situations in the past to better understand what factors should be considered when making evacuation, shelter-in-place and reoccupation decisions and are intended to supplement hospital emergency plans, AHRQ stated.

The Hospital Evacuation Decision Guide can be found here, and the Hospital Assessment and Recovery Guide is here.