Joint Commission Taking Comments on Emergency Drill Change

The revision in the emergency management drill requirements in Standard EM.03.01.03 for the home care accreditation program would allow some organizations to use annual tabletop exercises rather than functional ones.

Comments are being accepted until Dec. 1 by The Joint Commission on a proposed change in the emergency management drill requirements in Standard EM.03.01.03 for the home care accreditation program. The change would allow some organizations to use annual tabletop exercises rather than functional ones.

The proposed new text lists the types of organizations that could not opt for tabletop exercises; they include home health, hospice inpatient, respiratory equipment, DME patient residence, and pharmacy dispensing services. Mail-order pharmacies would be able to utilize tabletop exercises, however.

Standard EM.03.01.03 requires accredited organizations to activate their Emergency Operations Plan once a year at each site included in the plan, and currently the standard says tabletop exercises "are not acceptable substitutes for [functional] exercises." If an organization activates its plan in response to an actual emergency, that emergency can serve in place of the emergency response exercise, according to the standard.

The proposed new text describes acceptable tabletop exercises. They must test staff roles and communications with designated response partners and also must test how the organization will communicate with patients during an emergency.

For more information, contact Julia Heitzer in the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at 630-792-5919 or jheitzer@jointcommission.org.

The commission is accepting comments via an online survey or an online form. It accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs nationwide with the goal of continuously improving health care provided to the public.

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