How Often are Healthcare Facilities Required to Practice Their Emergency Preparedness Plan?

In most workplaces employees can expect to have to go through a fire drill, shelter in place drill, and even an active shooter drill at least a couple times a year. In a healthcare facility, however, the requirements are going to be quite a bit different. While these workplaces are absolutely required to have emergency preparedness plans in place, they are not actually carried out as drills nearly as often.

This is because it is unreasonable, and unsafe, to have a hospital, for example, attempt to evacuate everyone from the facility during a fire drill. This would put many patients at risk. You can’t even have all the employees evacuate because many patients cannot be left alone, or they could have an emergency with nobody there to help them.

Healthcare facilities do need to have a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan in place, and all employees need to be familiar with it and with their role during an emergency. Most medical facilities are required to update their plan at least every two years, and long-term care facilities need to do this annually.

Some aspects of emergency plans can be practiced by employees, but it needs to be done in a way that will not disrupt the care that they are providing. Having employees go over the emergency preparedness plan regularly, and demonstrate that they know what they need to do, is an ongoing task for workplace safety coordinators in these environments.


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