Natural Disaster Preparedness

Jul 25, 2019
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There were a couple Tips a few weeks ago around the concept of risk management. Here is another one, as we find ourselves in the midst of wildfire season on the West Coast and as the Southeast and mid-Atlantic gird for the upcoming hurricane season. Natural disasters have been prevalent since the beginning of time on earth. Natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods are becoming more prevalent in certain regions of the U.S., and in those regions, the strength of these disasters is becoming even fiercer. Between the various types of disasters, many pharmacies and other health care provider organizations are in a potential threat zone from one or more of these. Without being properly insured and prepared, any one of these disaster types could bring complete physical and financial ruin to the pharmacy business, along with devastation of its employees. An additional consideration is that pharmacists and support personnel are in a position to be on the front lines of help during these disasters in the provision of pharmacy goods and services that could mean the difference between life and death for area residents perhaps suddenly evacuated from their homes.

Noe and Smith described the development of a community pharmacy disaster preparedness manual.1 The manual was organized in a stepwise fashion, beginning with risk assessment and preparation, followed by policies and procedures for specific disasters such as floods, hurricanes, nuclear, and bioterrorisim. The manual also addresses relocation priorities, plans, and procedures. It also contains information about the storage of a universal disaster preparedness kit, how to use the kit in various situations, and operating the business during the disaster, beginning with items such as a telephone call tree and a disaster contact list. The authors also discuss having adequate insurance protection in addition to having the disaster preparedness manual freely available and accessible.

Pharmacy organizations have to be ready not only for “routine” day-to-day operation but also various contingencies such as natural disasters, which are becoming more common in certain areas. Doing so can potentially save the business and save the lives of patients.

Additional information about Risk Management in Contemporary Pharmacy Practice can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Noe B, Smith A. Development of a community pharmacy natural disaster preparedness manual. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2013;53:432-437.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

1 Comments

Shane Desselle about 2 months ago

Have you had an opportunity to take up any CE on disaster preparedness? What surprised you most?