Evacuation from healthcare facilities in Poland: Legal preparedness and preparation

Krzysztof Goniewicz, Patrycja Misztal-okońska, Witold Pawłowski, Frederick M. Burkle, Robert Czerski, Attila J. Hertelendy, Mariusz Goniewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Medical facilities, while providing both essential and demanding health care to society’s most vulnerable populations, also belong to the most demanding category of risk to human life if and when a crisis event occurs within its walls. The development of a safe evacuation plan for these facilities is extremely complicated, as the evacuation of medical facilities is much more complex than for other critical infrastructure. In this category, the evacuated patients constitute a specific risk group requiring specialized medical care. Hospitalized persons may be dependent on life-saving measures, are unconscious or immobile, are significantly restricted in movement or mentally unbalanced, being dependent on the continued assistance of trained third parties. Additionally, the medical transport of evacuated patients becomes more difficult due to the limited capacity of ambulances and available health care facilities to transport them to, which are increasingly limited due to their overcrowded census. The study aimed to analyze the requirements which are placed on hospitals in Poland to ensure the safety of patients in case of an evacuation. The research method used in the paper was retrospective analysis and evaluation of the media and literature. We have found, that Polish law imposes an obligation on the administrator of a medical facility to ensure the safety of both patients and employees. The regulations cover issues of technical conditions to be met by buildings and their location, prevention, and fire protection requirements, and the determination of which staff is responsible for the evacuation. However, available documents fail to describe what the hospital evacuation process itself should entail under emergency evacuation. Taking into account the complexity of the hospital evacuation process, health care facilities should have a well-developed plan of action that must be implemented at least once a year in the form of facility-wide training. Evacuation drills should not be avoided. Only trained procedures offer the possibility of later analysis to identify and eliminate errors and provide the opportunity to acquire skill sets and habits which promote the behaviors expected in real-life emergencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1779
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Evacuation
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Hospital safety
  • Legal preparedness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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