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Standard to Sufficiency: IOM Framework Paves the Way

Crisis Standards of Care: A Systems Framework for Catastrophic Disaster Response has been released by the Institute of Medicine and should be required reading for anyone who participates in emergency preparedness.

When disaster strikes changes have to be made. Planning has to turn into action. Public health, emergency medical service, and hospitals will be faced with tremendous pressure to do the best for the most with what they've got. I call this situation switching from a Standard of Care to a Sufficiency of Care - the latest publication from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls it Crisis Standard of Care. The Tenent Health/Katrina decision reinforced the health care planing message...IOM tells us how to do it -

IOM defines three levels of care:
  1. Conventional Care
  2. Contingency Care
  3. Crisis Care
Crisis Standards of Care document totals over 500 pages divided into easy to digest volumes that target key pillars of Hospital Care, Public Health, Out of Hospital Care, EMS, and Emergency Management/Public Safety. The standards are built on a platform of ethical considerations and legal authority that segue into other critical, but often ignored, components such as community engagement and creation of incidents and triggers for action.

A key to this document being noteworthy is the detailed incorporation of emergency medical service, out of hospital care and public health.While most preparedness documents clump these disciplines under the health care umbrella, IOM takes a refreshing stance by giving each of these disciplines receives appropriate attention and legitimate planning guidance. The quality doesn't stop there; IOM goes even further, including at-risk populations, palliative care, home care, and walk in/urgent care centers as contingencies for planning.

Template from IOM document
Hospitals have a "duty to plan" and the framework for planning and plan development is exceptionally easy to follow. Step-by-step guidance is given in terms that are easy to understand with a process that has a natural flow and will be a nice addition to your 96-hour planning. Based on my experience, this process with integrate well into existing planning workflow. Following the IOM planning template may also help you avoid my 7 Surefire Tips for Emergency Plan Failure. I also recommend a review of the 6 items that good plans have that bad ones don't.

Recommendations are made for the inclusion of tabletop exercises (TTX) as a means to testing plans created under this framework. TTXs are my favorite training exercise; they are fantastic activities that can be accomplished with a reasonable amount of preparation and very little funding. Follow these links for more on  tabletop exercises and exercise design. See also my five tips that will enhance your exercise design program.

The IOM Crisis Standards of Care -
  • includes template guides for palnning
  • includes EMS, public health as major players 
  • accounts for mental health, palliative care and at-risk populations
  • call for tabletop exercises
Includes recomendations for -
  • establishing trigger points for switching between conventional, contingency, and crisis care
  • modifications for protocols/authorized use of CSC in planning
  • guidance for liability protection and reimbursement
Recommended areas of focus -
  • Volume 3: EMS
  • Volume 4: Hosptial
  • Volume 5: Alternate Care

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