The best time to prepare for a disaster is before it hits — well before it hits. This seems obvious, but National Preparedness Month is here to remind us to take action and plan. Physician practices may lack comprehensive planning that protects the business and outlines “What to do when…” The consequences can be disastrous to your patients if they can’t count on you for care, as well as disastrous to your practice’s staff, operations, and financial well-being.
Most recently, the pandemic has been an extended exercise in disaster management, considering how quickly and completely it turned the medical world upside-down, and how long its impacts have continued. If you haven’t already, be intentional about thinking through and documenting what you learned throughout your pandemic experience and consider how you can apply those lessons to other possible disaster situations.
Since it is National Preparedness Month, it’s also a great time to build or update your plans to prepare your practice for disasters and emergencies. When you and your team know “What to do when…” you can ensure you’re ready to respond in ways that are helpful to the situation and your patients while also protecting the health of your practice.
A Physician’s Responsibility
When talking about disaster preparedness for your practice it’s a must to start with ethics. Disasters of many kinds require a medical response to which physicians are often urgently called. Clearly how you respond to a disaster, and how you balance your response with the needs of your patients, is an individual decision.
To help, look to the American Medical Association’s code of ethics and an opinion on disaster response which discusses that, although a physician’s obligation is to respond, you also have an obligation to consider risks and their impact on your ability to provide future care.
You may consider doing scenario planning around specific disaster situations to frame where and how you could best provide effective medical services. Examine how your response would potentially impact your everyday patients and design detailed alternative plans to ensure continuity of care for patients who may need it. When there is a future call to action, you’ll already have planned how you’ll respond and what needs to happen next.
National Preparedness Month: Helping You Make a Disaster Plan
If you need to make disaster plans for your business, or want to ensure they’re updated, where do you start? We have three suggestions.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security created its Ready campaign to provide information to help Americans prepare for natural, health, and man-made disasters. The Ready Business website offers businesses detailed hazard-specific toolkits with information about identifying risk, developing a plan, and taking action. The Ready toolkits include hurricane, earthquake, inland flooding, power outage, and severe wind/tornado. The site also features information about important response elements like risk assessment, employee assistance, and protective actions like evacuation. You could build on these guides by applying their framework to other disasters and emergencies your practice may face, which could include things like snowstorms, extreme heat or cold waves, structure collapses, infectious disease outbreaks, and community violence.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also provides preparedness checklists and safety tips on its website for specific disasters, including hurricanes, winter weather, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and cyber security.
Finally, the American Society for Health Care Risk Management created a brief guide for physicians to use to create an emergency plan. It steps you through recommendations for analyzing vulnerabilities, plan components, training, and developing policies and procedures for staff, communications, patient care, and more.
Protecting Your Practice
Of course, protecting your practice in a disaster is critical for you, your staff, and your patients. Did you know MSV offers insurance through its insurance agency? The MSV Insurance Agency (MSVIA) can help you prepare your practice for disasters and emergencies with Business Insurance as well as provide Professional Liability Insurance and Group and Individual Health Insurance.
Specifically related to disasters, the Business Owners Policy (BOP) for small- and medium-sized practices combines business property insurance with coverage for the building (if your practice owns the building), crime, business interruption and lost income, and general liability. Additional optional coverages can add non-owned vehicles, computer and data coverage, equipment breakdown, and more. BOP can cover repair or replacement costs for physical damage and can provide continued cash flow if your practice must close temporarily.
Contact MSVIA through our website form today to learn how to prepare your practice for disasters and emergencies with insurance coverage, which is a critical piece of today’s disaster preparedness puzzle.