The insurer Liberty Mutual has released a whitepaper intended to help healthcare organizations better prepare for and respond to disasters.

“Emergency Preparedness in Healthcare: Learning from the Past to Improve the Future” encourages a more holistic approach to hospital disaster planning and recovery. It reviews three critical, but largely unaddressed, areas of concern in hospital emergency preparedness: credentialing difficulties, Medicare/Medicaid requirements, and emerging infrastructure issues.

“Hospitals’ experience with last year’s severe weather shows the industry must think beyond standard emergency plans if they are to sustain a community during a tragic event,” Jeff Duncan, chief underwriting officer with Liberty Mutual, said in a statement accompanying the release of the paper.

The whitepaper addresses these key disaster preparedness best practices:

• continuously developing, testing, and refining a proactive disaster preparedness and recovery plan;

• proactively developing mutual aid agreements with other area facilities and vendors to expedite credentialing medical professionals, supplies, equipment, etc., when they are most needed;

• understanding how potential disasters might affect the hospital’s structure, key equipment, supplies, inpatient services, and outpatients receiving critical care;

• determining how long the facility can operate self-sufficiently during a local catastrophe.

The whitepaper also reviews three issues highlighted by recent severe weather: credentialing, Medicare/Medicaid requirements, and emergency infrastructure challenges. Credentialing must be addressed before emergencies cause a surge of patients for hospitals, which then creates a need for additional qualified medical staff from outside the impacted area.

Hospitals must comply with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ emergency preparedness requirements, the report notes, which will help ensure coordination and communication between treatment centers serving Medicare and/or Medicaid patients affected by local emergencies.

The report notes that losing key services such as electricity can close the entire facility at a time when it is needed most, and recent severe storms show the importance of making sure generators are located in areas where they will not flood.

The whitepaper is available online at: