Emergency preparedness remains one of the most crucial aspects of emergency management. All areas of the country must prepare in case of a disaster. This includes hospitals, which must not only be able to continuing caring for their current patients, but also must be able to provide care for those who will likely be injured as a result of the disaster. In order to achieve the required use of hospitals during emergency incidents, hospitals must be integrated into community planning for emergency management. The article “Integrating Hospitals into Community Emergency Preparedness Planning” discusses the importance of this and how it can best be accomplished. The authors are Braun, Wineman, Finn, Barbera et al. It was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2006.
The article examined how strong the links are between the hospitals and the community emergency planners in case of a disaster. In order to accomplish this, the authors used a questionnaire that was sent to 1,750 community-based hospitals. Unfortunately, only 575 (33%) of hospitals returned the questionnaire. Obviously, this poor a response could limit the accuracy of the study. The hospitals that did return the response may have been more comfortable with their level of emergency planning and their connections with their community in the event of an emergency. This may have resulted in a biased response on the part of the community hospitals. The authors were also concerned that the hospitals that did respond may have been biased in their self-perception about their level of preparedness. This may explain why the majority of hospitals that responded answered that their enjoyed substantial links with the emergency management departments of their communities.
The authors did utilize a random sample of the 1,750 hospitals that were selected for the survey. All of the hospitals were generalized medical-surgical hospitals; the hospitals were selected from the American Hospital Association database. The authors also admitted that they had to decide which questions were the most important on the questionnaire survey. There were no previous studies on this topic to guide them. The questions focused on hospital and community planning for disasters. Of those who responded, over half were urban hospitals. Rural communities are also likely to be struck with disasters, such as natural hazards. It must be noted though, that urban communities are more likely to experience terrorist attacks. The authors determined that more studies must be conducted, along with more training. For instance, the disaster training that is conducted tends to only occur on day shift. This leaves the hospital vulnerable for any disaster that occurs during the evening or night shifts. This was the first study of this type; obviously, additional studies must follow. These studies can help determine how to improve the linkages
This is important for this class because hospitals remain one of the most vital aspects of an emergency management program. Hospitals are where all of the sick and injured victims from a disaster are sent. A person may be rescued from a building collapse; however, if the person cannot get prompt treatment, he or she may die anyways. It is apparent that the hospital system must become more integrated with emergency management activities and with the functions of first responders in the community. This would allow better communication, which would allow hospitals to be better prepared in the event of a emergency.