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96 Hour Healthcare Emergency Planning Part One

Why a 96-Hour Plan?

The Joint Commission on Healthcare Accreditation (JC) requires emergency planning on the part of hospitals and healthcare facilities. Part of that preparedness requirement is to have an operational plan that sustains the facility when access to external resources are no longer available. Commonly known as the 96-hour plan, healthcare facilities must prove that they've considered the possibilities and impact on operations when they become cut off from the rest of the world by some catastrophic event. 96 Hour planning may be seen as something of a fuel gauge to manage inventory and as a means to survival for the facility. The process includes an assessment of materials on hand and consumption rates. Like other disaster plans, the 96-hour plan must integrate the facilities Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA), existing community response plans and identify the ability to sustain communication, resources and assets, security and safety, staff, utilities and patient care.

96 hour planning is an excellent addition to your Emergency Management to-do list

Not sure how to start planning? Check out Pre-incident Planning and see What Good Plans Have and Bad Ones Don't

A solid 96 hour plan will help decision making when changing from a standard of care to a sufficiency of care, evacuation or conservation of resources. While the JC does not require stockpiling of supplies for the planning period, the expectation is that advance planning will take place and a process will be created to aid in decision making. Organizations that undertake a realistic approach to this planning will come away with and improved understanding of how resources and assets are used for daily operations. This level of planning is also relevant to other forms of emergencies such as biologic events and other threats.

Need help writing a biologic response plan? See How to Write Your Biologic Plan

The Tenent Health decision illustrates the need for 96-hour or resiliency planning for disaster operations and sets a tone of responsibility. Get the full Mitigation Journal two-part review on the Katrina/Tenent decision check out A Message from Katrina. Healthcare facilities must prepare for the following eventualities during a disaster:
  • Discharges from the hospital will be limited - limitations in travel as well physical damage to roads and residences will make discharge of patients difficult.
  • There will be a surge in patients seeking care - healthcare institutions will be seen as an area of refuge and people will expect some level of care in the form of shelter and food. At-risk and special needs populations will self refer in anticipation of need as well.
  • Supplies and materials from fuel to water will be limited if not impossible to obtain from vendors and routine delivery of supplies and materials will not occur. Facilities will be left with what they have on-hand.
See 7 Healthcare Preparedness Things You Need to Know for more on healthcare planning.

Hospitals must be considered critical infrastructure by local government and protected accordingly. With that said, healthcare facilities retain responsibility for the care of patients and support of staff during catastrophic events and must plan to be self sufficient.

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