Traditional healthcare quality metrics should be applied to develop performance measures in hospital emergency management, according to a new study in the American Medical Associations Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal.
Although healthcare institutions regularly perform rigorous quality assessments of routine clinical and administrative services, few metrics are available for healthcare institutions to evaluate the quality of their emergency management initiatives, the authors wrote in the study. The findings show that healthcare organizations are ill-equipped to evaluate major strengths and weaknesses of their programs because major disasters occur infrequently. Also, the studys authors contend that the concept of healthcare institutions as potential terrorist targets has forced facilities to focus their resources on safety and security, rather than on assessment of comprehensive emergency management efforts.
One place to start, the authors suggest, is for hospitals to study the times when their emergency departments experienced extreme volume and demand for services, which are commonly ignored as outlier periods.
We suggest that a specific focus on outlier periods may most closely replicate disaster situations and thus should be evaluated in terms of outcomes and process, the study said. -- by Jessica Zigmond