The issue of mandatory emergency preparedness plan for hospitals is not new in the American society. Hospitals have always been required to have an emergency plan to follow should a pandemic occur. However, the present pandemic planning policies fail to heed to lessons in history and not all hospitals have implemented the requirement (Stanton, 2007). In the past decade, there have been a number of situations that have occurred in America and tested the pandemic preparedness of America’s hospitals. The recent bioterrorism scares involving smallpox and anthrax, and the major Ebola outbreak in 2014 are some of the major pandemics that have showed that US hospitals are not prepared for a major pandemic. Therefore, hospitals should embrace employing the necessary measures and resources to ensure that they establish an efficient and effective pandemic preparedness system to handle and manage cases of major pandemic in the US and the world as a whole.
According to Berger (2006), mandatory emergency preparedness plan for pandemic preparedness is an emergency preparedness program with the primary function of ensuring that the hospital is well prepared to effectively and quickly respond to an emergency pandemic occurring within the community or even within the hospital itself. Furthermore, even though every hospital as well as the community is unique, a standard set of requirements form the primary part of all the emergency preparedness planning. Hospitals should embrace and implement an effective emergency pandemic preparedness program which is suited to their community.
Several hospitals have adopted specific pandemic plans provided by the federal government. However, there is poor coordination of the plans as well as the counter-productive measures. Most hospitals assume the “worst case” scenario and most of the pandemic preparedness plans depend heavily on the punitive approach as well as emphasizing on extreme measures such as forced treatment and quarantine (Berger, 2006). For instance, the US department of Health and Human Service’s Pandemic Influenza Plan contains a “containment strategy” calling for large scale use of government force such as banning public gatherings, restricting movement of individuals, isolating symptomatic individuals, or compel treatment or vaccination.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 94.2 percent of hospitals have revised their pandemic preparedness plan after 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa (Powers, 2014). The emergency pandemic programs in implemented in various hospitals should be tailored in a manner that will accommodate the needs of a certain pandemic and not only a single or few pandemic cases. Assuming that similar pandemic preparedness plan can be application to any kind of disaster without taking into consideration the specific nature of the bacteria or virus and how it is prevented and treated can be dangerous. Having the emergency pandemic preparedness plan in place will ensure that the health needs of the community are safeguarded and promptly attended to incase of a major outbreak (Stanton, 2007).
All hospitals should have a mandatory emergency preparedness plan for pandemic preparedness will also help in providing assistance to other parts of the world in case they are overwhelmed (Niska, 2005). They will significantly help in accommodating the patients of the particular pandemic, hence reducing constraints of patients and medical personnel that was experienced during the recent Ebola outbreak. Most of the countries in the Third World are poorly equipped to handle large-scale pandemic. They have poor and ineffective preparedness programs, lack of health personnel to manage the pandemic, and lack of major resources such as finance and infrastructure to contain an outbreak. By making the emergency preparedness plan for pandemic to be mandatory for US hospitals will help in providing more resources in form of finance, and trained human personnel.
There are various potential directions for implementing the mandatory emergency pandemic preparedness plan for hospitals in the US and making them more effective. One of the main approach is for the government to first develop a modifiable base plans for every type of pandemic. Hospitals should establish departments that will handle and implement the model plan development (Niska, 2005). The agency will be responsible for dividing or categorizing the pandemics according to severity and causative agent in order to pre-plan for the resources to use in case of emergency. Having mandatory preparedness plans tailored for different types of pandemics can ensure that hospitals are adequately prepared for any form of emergency. Preparedness facilities can help in decreasing the confusion and miscommunication during the real outbreak or disaster.
Even though the making it mandatory for hospitals to have pandemic preparedness programs might cost more resources such as finance and human resource, training of top personnel in planning is important. Every hospital would choose its top personnel from every department such as nursing, administration, and physicians to establish a committee (Berger, 2006). The individuals would work together to establish pandemic containment plans for the hospitals. Every evacuation plan details should be included in the plan and how the community should be involved.
In a nutshell, it should mandatory for hospitals to have a pandemic preparedness plan to handle an emergency pandemic. Despite that fact that most hospitals have an emergency handling section, most of the emergency programs are not tailored to handle a wide variety of pandemics that might occur in the society. Ensuring that the emergency pandemic preparedness is made mandatory in hospitals will be significant in preparing hospitals to handle large scale pandemic cases that can happen in the US and also in other parts of the world.
- Berger, E. (2006). “Maintaining Order in Chaos.” Charity Hospital and Disaster Preparedness. Annals of Emergency Medicine. Vol. 47, Issue 1, pp. 53-56.
- Niska, R. (2005). Bioterrorism and Mass Casualty Preparedness in Hospitals. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, September 27, 2005, Num. 364, pp. 1-15. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from http://www.cdc.gov/
- Stanton, C. (2007). Disaster Preparedness: resources are there, but planning, staff training are keys to success. Retrieved November 10, 2007, from http://www.aorn.org/
- Powers, M. (2014). “Evaluation of Hospital-based Disaster Education.” ScienceDirect. Vol. 33, Issue 1, pp.79-82.