Majority of hospitals revised emergency plans

About 92% of hospitals surveyed in 2003 and 2004 had revised their emergency response plans since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly two-thirds of hospitals had addressed natural disasters and four types of terrorism incidents (biological, chemical, nuclear-radiological, and explosive-incendiary) in their plans.

More than three-quarters engaged in cooperative planning with other local health care facilities, while 52% had written agreements to be able to transfer patients during a disaster. Facilities accredited by The Joint Commission provided for these elements more frequently than non-accredited hospitals.

Hospitals with 300 or more beds planned with other health facilities more frequently than those with fewer than 100 beds.

As to expansion of capacity during an emergency, 73% of hospitals had planned for cancellation of elective procedures and admissions, 65.5% had plans to establish an alternate care site, 60% had plans to make medical use of non-clinical space, 40% planned to convert their post-anesthesia care unit to accommodate intensive care needs, and 28% planned to activate decommissioned units.