September 23, 2009 | | Comments 0
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Most of you are well prepared for disaster response, but there’s always the unpredictable event

I really think — this being my ever so humble opinion based on my observations — that most hospitals are adequately prepared to respond to the emergencies they have identified as being the most likely to occur.

That’s not to say there are not improvement opportunities, because there will always be ways to become better prepared, particularly when it comes to catastrophic events. But the worst part of a catastrophe (at least from a planning standpoint) is that its magnitude is far greater than one might previously have anticipated. How can you legitimately do anything more than endure a catastrophic event and take what lessons you can?

A good example is the whole pandemic H1N1 flu concern. We’ve been planning for this type of event for the better part of a decade, but the truth of the matter is that if the worst case scenario is realized, there is only so much anyone can do.

If the biological component of the influenza-du-jour alters even minimally over the course of the next little while, all the current flu shots might be rendered near-ineffective in mere moments. But what’s the statistical likelihood? (In chaos theory, everything is just as likely as everything else, or at least I think it’s chaos theory…)

An ill-prepared organization is generally pretty easy to discern because it has very little in place. But unless someone is planning with a very efficient crystal ball, it’s still something of a crapshoot.

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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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