Risk Management Tools & Resources


Preparing Your Healthcare Practice for Environmental Emergencies: Training Staff Members

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


Environmental emergencies can occur at any time and any place, and they can have widespread consequences for individuals, businesses, and communities. Natural disasters, severe weather, industrial accidents, chemical and oil spills, and unintentional radiation exposure are all examples of potential environmental emergencies.

For healthcare practices, emergency preparedness for environmental crises is paramount to safeguarding patients, family members, visitors, providers, staff, and office infrastructure; minimizing adverse effects; preventing losses; and facilitating recovery efforts.

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Preparing Your Healthcare Practice for Environmental Emergencies: Developing a Response Plan

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


History has shown society’s vulnerability to a myriad of environmental disasters — but it also has shown how preparedness efforts can have a significant impact on disaster outcomes. Despite an element of unpredictability that is inherent in many natural and manmade environmental emergencies, planning and preparation are powerful and effective tools for managing these situations.

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Preparing Your Healthcare Practice for Environmental Emergencies: Identifying and Assessing Risks

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


History has shown that natural disasters and other environmental crises can occur with limited warning and may necessitate a rapid emergency response. In the United States alone, 125 emergency declarations occurred in 2020, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).1

Information about emergency preparedness and response in healthcare often focuses on hospitals; yet, responding quickly and efficiently to emergencies also is vital for healthcare practices. Doing so can help safeguard patients and staff members, minimize emotional upheaval, reduce risk exposures, and support business continuity.

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Managing Medical Emergencies: A Three-Pronged Approach for Healthcare Practices

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


Medical emergencies — unexpected events that lead to bodily injuries or critical medical conditions — can occur anywhere, including healthcare practices. In fact, the occurrence of medical emergencies in healthcare settings might not be as uncommon as many people think. For example:

  • A study found that 62 percent of family medicine and childcare offices saw at least one child each week that required urgent care or hospital admittance.1
  • The combined results from two dental studies showed that more than 30,000 emergencies occurred in dental offices over a 10-year period (in a survey of more than 4,000 dentists).2
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Preventing Medical Emergencies in Healthcare Practices

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


Medical emergencies in healthcare practices are a persistent concern. Although some medical emergencies are inevitable, others can potentially be avoided through careful patient evaluation and assessment.1 In an article titled “Knowing Your Patient,” Dr. Stanley Malamed explains that the prevention of medical emergencies relies on gathering adequate and appropriate information and assessing the patient’s level of care-related anxiety.2

Several steps in the patient care process are critical in the prevention effort, including the medical questionnaire, the provider–patient encounter, and the physical exam.

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Preparing for Medical Emergencies in Healthcare Practices

Medical emergencies can and will occur in healthcare practice settings, making preparation paramount. A vital step in preparing for a medical emergency is developing a written emergency response plan. When creating or evaluating your practice’s plan for responding to unexpected medical crises, consider the following:1

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Taking Action During Medical Emergencies in Healthcare Practices

Although thoroughly preparing for medical emergencies requires time and resources, the results can prove significant. When an emergency occurs, healthcare providers and staff members must be ready to quickly implement their emergency response plan.

Even if providers and staff are not experienced with, or highly knowledgeable of, the type of emergency taking place, the common goal is to “manage the patient’s care until he or she recovers fully or until help arrives.”1 A dual strategy to emergency response is recommended that involves a medical response and a communication response that occur simultaneously.2

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Overcoming Telehealth Barriers and Engaging Older Adults in Virtual Care

If 2020 offered any silver lining at all for healthcare, one could easily argue that it was telehealth. In the wake of COVID-19, as healthcare practices around the country closed their physical doors altogether or limited access to emergency services only, telehealth offered a virtual gateway that became instrumental to continuity of care for patients and economic viability for practices.

Yet, as indispensable as telehealth has been since March of 2020, it mirrors other aspects of healthcare in creating disparities. Certain populations have not been able to take advantage of virtual care in the same way as others, for numerous reasons. Older adults are one of the groups at a disadvantage. This article examines the barriers that prevent many older adults from participating fully in telehealth and offers practical strategies that healthcare providers can implement to address these issues.

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