Disaster plans filled with holes, feds say

Share this content:
While most U.S. nursing homes have adequate written plans for managing natural disasters, many have significant gaps in preparedness and response, a government report finds.

In its analysis of federal nursing home compliance data and interviews conducted during site visits, officials from the Office of the Inspector General noted that emergency plans lacked crucial information. Investigators evaluated facilities' response plans for natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Commonly lacking in the plans were details on how to handle staff shortages during a disaster, how to identify residents after evacuation, or how to ensure provision of enough water and medical equipment.

“Nursing homes faced challenges with unreliable transportation contracts, lack of collaboration with local emergency management, and residents who developed health problems,” report authors noted.

The report provided regulators with three primary recommendations: They should revise federal regulations for emergency management and training; update the State Operations Manual with guidance for state surveys; and promote the use of emergency checklists.