business of Medicine


Disaster Recovery Toolkit

July 25, 2019

Responding to a disaster

Establish priorities

Setting priorities will help prioritize actions and resources during emergency events.Priorities can include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring the safety of employees, patients, and visitors
  • Containing/separating any immediate hazards
  • Protecting critical items such as vital records, equipment, and supplies
  • Restoring essential external services (e.g., utilities, water)
  • Continuing operations and providing patient care
  • Communicating to the public

Activate the emergency operations plan

Use the plan to respond and communicate during an emergency. Employees know what steps are required and will anticipate/follow the plan as directed.

Follow communication procedures

Clear communication is critical during an emergency situation. If an immediate, internal emergency occurs, employees should rescue anyone in danger and alert appropriate individuals by calling 911 and following other alert procedures. If an external emergency occurs, the designated individual who is monitoring the situation should follow the communication plan to inform employees what their role will be and how they will obtain updates. Providing time frames for periodic updates and check-ins can simplify communication during an extended emergency (e.g., hurricanes, winter storms).

Ongoing determination of clinical operational status

During an emergency, the facility will need to determine whether it can and should continue operations or close for the safety of employees and patients. Depending on the level of emergency, facilities might have no choice but to close until it is safe to resume operations. To assist in the determination of clinical operational status, there are several items to take into consideration. Additionally, an evaluation of impact on clinical operations and workforce safety can assist in the decision making process.

Items to take into consideration:

  • Extent of damage
  • Status of utilities
  • Presence of hazardous conditions/materials
  • Condition of equipment and supplies
  • Surrounding area hazards
  • Workforce availability

Get a sample template of our facility open/close status decision tool here. 


The information provided in this resource does not constitute legal, medical or any other professional advice, nor does it establish a standard of care. This resource has been created as an aid to you in your practice. The ultimate decision on how to use the information provided rests solely with you, the PolicyOwner.