The CMS Emergency Preparedness Final Rule is an invaluable tool for improving emergency readiness and responsiveness – and can help a healthcare facility prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Passed in 2017, the rule mandates better emergency planning and support, with an emphasis on communication. COVID-19 will likely impact elements of the final rule, but all potential emergencies and threats should be considered when evaluating a facility’s emergency plan, according to a recent blog post by IMEG Director of Healthcare Mike Zorich.
The goal of the final rule, Zorich says, is to identify the threats to a facility and find ways to address those threats through an all-hazards risk assessment, developing policies and procedures, training staff and testing the plan, and creating a communication plan to ensure emergency situations are handled correctly.
The all-hazards risk analysis identifies the threats specific to the hospital’s community. These risks include both man-made and natural disasters, such as cybersecurity breaches and weather-related disasters, as well as the issues they pose to the hospital, including power or equipment failures and communication disruption.
Once risks and hazards are established, an action plan is developed to address those risks, followed by policies and procedures that key personnel can use to mitigate each risk. Staff must be trained in handling the risks and in communicating with local authorities and the public.
Facilities should test their plans annually to ensure the plans run smoothly. As COVID-19 has revealed, preparedness can help a facility mitigate the impact of an emergency and allow hospital staff to continue delivering quality care while protecting employees and their community.
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