5 Steps Medical Practices Should Take to Prepare for Disasters
September is National Preparedness Month. The American Board of Disaster Medicine (ABODM) and the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS®) recommends that all small-business owners establish and maintain a comprehensive, up-to-date plan to ride out a disaster or wide-spread emergency. This is especially important for small medical practices, which are legally responsible for safe-guarding their patients’ medical records and could be called upon to help treat injuries − or even to save lives.
The ABODM provides a path to board certification in Disaster Medicine for qualified physicians. In fact, in many ways, physicians who want to undertake leadership roles in times of community-wide calamity would do well to reinforce their credentials by focusing on Disaster Medicine as a second specialty. Disaster preparedness and response experts are integral when it comes to community-wide preparation and recovery, but every medical practice should make its own disaster plan as well. While every practice is unique, there are several general steps every physician or office manager can take once the potential serious risks have been identified:
- Prioritize the practice’s operations on the basis of what will be maintained throughout the duration of the emergency and determine how those operations will be maintained.
- Assign team members to relevant tasks, preferably in keeping with their everyday duties.
- Create an inventory, with photographs and receipts, of every item in the office.
- Make a list of emergency contacts and keep it in an easily accessible place.
- Create a document, preferably digitally and in print, that provides all the details of the disaster plan.
Other factors should be taken into account as well. In fact, the number one consideration during a disaster situation is the safety of staff members and patients. An evacuation route should also be pre-planned, in case the immediate vicinity becomes unsafe. It also is vital to establish guidelines for recovery ahead of time, keeping them as general as possible to suit the particular emergency or loss.
To learn more about Disaster Medicine board certification, contact the ABPS. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty board certification body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®