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Preparing for Medical Emergencies in Your Office

As a medical office, it’s very important that your workplace and staff be prepared for any type of emergency. With all the different types of procedures performed and medications administered in your practice, there will unfortunately be medical emergencies. The unpredictable nature of life, and certain state and federal laws, means you need to be prepared with a medical office safety plan.

No one can predict when things can go wrong, and being prepared for the unexpected will ensure that your office is safe, successful and prepared. Here are some tips and pointers to ensure your medical office safety plan is ready for the worst.

Emergencies vs. Urgent Situations

First recognize that there is a difference between emergencies and urgent conditions. Emergencies are any medical event or condition that will result in a loss of life or significant morbidity, such as the loss of an organ system function, a limb or loss of sight within 48 hours. Any event that will cause a loss of life or that will result in a significant morbidity at a time later that 48 hours is defined as an urgent situation.

Have a Plan

Most of these emergency and urgent situations can be resolved with an office’s preparedness plan. You should have a plan for each foreseeable emergency/urgent event, especially if your practice can foresee any emergencies that will result from iatrogenic complications of medications and procedures. Make sure your plan includes what to do for any and all emergency and urgent situations.

Generally, emergencies should be immediately referred to an acute care facility by whatever means necessary. It might not be required for every patient in an emergency to be need emergency medical services (EMS), but an office should have its own set of guidelines in case EMS need to be activated.

For urgent situations, make sure that they are referred with direct communication between the accepting practitioner and the referring, ensuring that there is involvement and agreement from the patient and/or family members. In an office setting, the obligation for training is to recognize and immediately stabilize any situation arising from therapy or diagnostic procedures.

Training

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends completing the certification for an advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) provider. The training will take 8-16 hours of on-site training and testing and a few hours of self study. The AHA also recommends that all able adults be trained in basic life support (BLS) as well, which includes CPR training. Making sure that you and your staff have the appropriate trainings is necessary and can even make the difference between life and death should a situation like that arise.

Equipment

Having the right type of equipment is necessary in any medical office safety plan. It’s a good idea (and may be a requirement depending on your state and practice) to have an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in your office. The AED is a great, life-saving tool that can analyze a cardiac rhythm, recognize a shockable rhythm and defibrillate a patient if necessary.

While it may be required or obvious that your practice should need to have AED, other practices will want to think about this decision. Having one is not considered to be the standard of care, and some studies have indicated that it is risky for family practices to have them. Yet other studies have indicated that having one can be life saving.

To determine if your office needs one, you should consider the likelihood of a patient going into cardiac arrest at your practice.

One of the best ways to avoid medical emergencies is to prevent them. It is essential to recognize and anticipate any potential emergencies, and have a plan to be prepared to deal with them. Boulevard LA can help your office with determining a space to plan for emergencies. They have worked with clients like Quest Diagnostics, USC Fertility and Perinatal and nonprofit community clinics. They understand that every practice is unique, and they can provide you with a suitable space to help your practice thrive safely and efficiently.

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