The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has found significant gaps in emergency preparedness among its providers, and is proposing regulations that would require providers and suppliers to meet planning, training, and communication standards.
"We believe that currently, in the event of a disaster, health care providers and suppliers across the nation would not have the necessary emergency planning and preparations in place to adequately protect the health and safety of patients," CMS states in the proposed rule. "Thus, we are proposing these emergency preparedness requirements to establish a comprehensive, consistent, flexible, and dynamic regulatory approach" to the issue of emergency preparedness.
Though the 453-page document (.pdf) includes provisions that vary depending on the type of provider or supplier, the rules are built around 4 basic standards: risk assessment and planning, development of policies and procedures, establishment of a communication plan, and ongoing training and testing of staff.
CMS writes that the concerns about preparedness were brought to light after the 9/11 attacks, with further weaknesses exposed during hurricane Katrina, tornado events in Missouri and Oklahoma, and the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. "We concluded that current emergency preparedness requirements are not comprehensive enough to address the complexities of actual emergencies," the rules state.
The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 27. Public comments will be accepted for 60 days afterwards.
APTA offers several resources at its disaster preparedness webpage as well as at its webpage focused on physical therapy in the emergency department.
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