NEW AHRQ GUIDES OFFER HOSPITALS ADVICE ON EMERGENCY EVACUATION, ASSESSMENT AND RECOVERY
Deciding whether or not and when to evacuate a hospital during an emergency situation can be a daunting one, as can the decision of when it is safe to return after the event. New resources from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are available to help hospital administrators and facility planners make these critical decisions.
The "Hospital Evacuation Decision Guide" walks users through the process of deciding when to evacuate, shelter in place, or defer and reassess as the situation evolves. It distinguishes between "pre-event evacuations"-which are undertaken in advance of an impending disaster (such as a storm) when the hospital structure and surrounding environment are not yet significantly compromised-and "post-event evacuations," which are carried out after a disaster has damaged a hospital or the surrounding community. The guidance draws upon expert panel experiences as well as lessons learned from past events including the Northridge, CA, earthquake of 1994; the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor incident of 1979; and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Included is a self-assessment worksheet to help hospitals consider the critical infrastructure issues that affect a decision to evacuate.
The companion "Hospital Assessment and Recovery Guide" helps hospital leaders and facility managers assess a facility's infrastructure after an emergency event to determine when it is safe to reoccupy the area. Comprised primarily of a 45-page checklist, the guide covers 11 separate areas hospital infrastructure components that should be evaluated before determining that it is safe to reoccupy a facility.
The resources specifically address issues related to evacuation and reoccupation. They supplement existing hospital emergency plans, which often do not include such decisionmaking guidance.
Both guides are available on the AHRQ Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/prep/.