March 23, 2009 | | Comments 0
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A closer look at The Joint Commission’s 96-hour FAQ

As you may have seen, The Joint Commission released some more FAQs earlier this month. One of them deals with the 96-hour provision under EM.02.01.01, EP 3 by reiterating that The Joint Commission doesn’t expect organizations to have 96-hour capabilities for emergency response efforts.

Rather, The Joint Commission wants each organization to have some knowledge of its capacities if an event results in the hospital being isolated from the immediate community for a period of 96 or more hours.

The idea is the organization can earmark at what point in the event they would need to start considering and acting on the need to evacuate.

One of the primary lessons learned in New Orleans was hospitals that ended up in trouble waited too long to make the decision to get out, so when the decision was made, it was no longer safe to do so.

I encourage folks to start by reviewing their hazard vulnerability analysis to ascertain what events (either by themselves or in combination) would even result in such a scenario. That analysis is going to be very organization-specific, and I submit, of fairly limited numbers (being isolated from the immediate community for a period of 96 or more hours is a very specific and very catastrophic event).

For example, if I know the conditions are ripe for a 96-hour event, I can utilize the option of bringing in additional supplies ahead of the event to help bridge any gaps. It’s the same idea with staffing and all the other critical emergency management functions. It’s not all about what you have; it’s also about what you can access before the excrement strikes the rotating blades.

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Filed Under: Emergency management


Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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