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Be Sure Your Own Practice is Prepared to Withstand Disaster Scenarios

Disaster MedicineWhile the priority of a Disaster Medicine physician clearly lies with helping the community at-large cope with and recover from a disaster situation, a big part of disaster preparation is making sure that the physician’s own business is able to withstand catastrophe. After all, a physician’s practice is his or her means of livelihood, as well as a physical foundation for public service and a place to treat patients.

So, even as a Disaster Medicine physician helps local hospitals and government agencies establish emergency protocols and a disaster response plan, he or she should take prudent, proactive steps that will enable the practice to rebound as quickly as possible − while never losing the ability to provide treatment and leadership in a time of crisis and its aftermath. Consultant Debra Cascardo recommends developing a comprehensive practice continuity plan that is based, in part, on the answers to these risk-assessment questions:

  • How vulnerable is your practice in the face of various types of disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, fire, gas leak, etc.)?
  • What event could pose the most serious and long-term threat to the viability of your practice?
  • What would you do in response to each of these events?

As you answer the questions, assign each type of disaster a numerical value (1-10) based on the anticipated catastrophic effect each might have on your practice. With risks assessed and ranked, assemble a team of employees and associates to develop your practice’s disaster preparedness plan. Be sure to consider all factors, such as who will deal with insurance carriers, who will be the primary contact for patients, what items will be removed from the office, who will be the primary contact for absent employees, and others. Take stock of insured equipment. Keep an emergency supply of medical gear close to hand, and keep it updated.

To learn more about the role of a board-certified Disaster Medicine physician, contact the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), which offers physician board certification in that specialty through the American Board of Disaster Medicine. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.