Hospital Utility Equipment Risk Mitigation
The Joint Commission’s (TJC’s) July 1, 2022 Hospital Emergency Management (EM) Chapter changes added some interesting new content regarding utility equipment emergency management. The current utility requirements can now be found in new Standard EM.12.02.11.
The following summary does not include the full TJC language – readers should review the new requirements closely. After the review, consider updating the existing processes to reflect not only the new requirements but also best practices where possible.
Element of Performance 1 (EP1) added air conditioning to the list of essential or critical utilities to consider necessary for providing care, treatment and services. Some hospitals, mostly in the southern U.S., had previously included consideration of losing air conditioning during an emergency, but many had not because it was not included in the earlier TJC EM requirements. The loss of cooling may have adverse effects not only on patients directly, but also the operation of sensitive medical technology.
Another EP had previous language that describing in writing how the hospital will continue to maintain an essential or critical utility system that has been impacted during the incident. The new EP2 requirement has expanded from just one utility system to one or more (simultaneously) impacted utility systems. A simple example of this multiple adverse impact could be when normal power fails, and at some later point some or all of the emergency power also fails, resulting in the subsequent loss of HVAC systems, water pumps, medical technology, etc., as well.
The EP3 requirements (discussing alternative means for providing water supply, emergency power supply systems including generators, and fuel storage) has not changed since the previous EP.
And finally, the previous EP that discussed using alternate sources of energy for maintaining needed temperatures and emergency lighting has now been expanded in new EP4 to include fire detection, fire extinguishing, and fire alarm systems; as well as sewage disposal and waste disposal. We all know that existing fire detection, fire extinguishing and fire alarm systems already have emergency power because of code requirements, but what can be done to maintain those systems operationally if the existing emergency power (or existing emergency distribution) fails?
In summary, hospital utility system risk mitigation emergency planning could become more complex than previously considered.
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