Emergencies, Crises and Disasters in Hospitals

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Disaster Research Center
This paper uses information from 76 participants in 13 focus groups in acute-care hospital organizations in California, Tennessee, and New York, to offer a model of rapid social change in hospitals. It find that hospitals, to ensure health service delivery in a variety of often rapidly changing and turbulent environments, engage in constant improvement and planning, programming, and collective mindfulness of current and future troubles. Hospitals do not differentiate operationally between emergencies, crises and disasters and do not have an objective set of criteria to invoke their disaster plan, but instead rely on staff's subjective evaluations of the actual and/or potential impact of hazards and/or other occasions on their operations; the likely effects of these occasions and conditions on the hospital's ability to continue to care for its patients optimally; the extent to which staff has confidence in its predictions; and the degree of preparedness and planning for these occasions. Community disasters are not necessarily hospital disasters, and the reverse is also the case. The implications of these findings for an institutional conceptualization of disasters are discussed.
Hospitals, Emergency Planning, Emergency Preparedness, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Plan