Hospital preparedness -- can it be done?

Siman-Tov M, Davidson B, Adini B. Maintaining Preparedness to Severe Though Infrequent Threats—Can It Be Done?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 Jan;17(7):2385.

Photo by Jo Kassis,

Context: Hospital preparedness for toxicological/chemical MCI events.

Method: Periodic evaluation of hospitals’ preparedness for such events using a tool that assesses Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), equipment and infrastructure, knowledge of personnel, and training and exercises.

Conclusions: Use of accessible benchmarks, which clearly delineate what needs to be continually implemented, facilitates an ongoing sustenance of effective levels of emergency preparedness. As this was demonstrated for a risk that does not frequently occur, it may be assumed that it is possible and practical to achieve and maintain emergency preparedness for other potential risks.

This study looks at a golden question: Can hospitals be prepared for high-impact, low-frequency events? The authors focused on hazmat events because that represents probably the most complex, most rare, and if not the most harmful, at least the most dramatic (poisons!). And it applies generally to disaster preparedness (complex, uncommon, harmful, and dramatic). The answer is a demonstrable yes, through regular evaluation of established benchmarks. Simply implementing an evaluation system, though, may not produce desired results. These evaluations were built on a very solid culture of emergency preparedness and regular training.

Another implication here is that emergency preparedness raises the threshold for disaster. Better preparedness for badness means it takes more badness to overwhelm systems, organizations, and individuals.

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