Nursing homes lack emergency plans in natural disasters, study says

Every year, about 3 million people who spend time in a nursing home are susceptible to harm if the facility does not have adequate safety measures in place.

Though incidents of nursing negligence in our Illinois homes and other facilities throughout the U.S. are often due to factors including lack of supervision, medication errors and abuse by staff members, negligence can also occur if nursing homes do not create adequate safety plans that address what to do in the event of a natural disaster.

A study by investigators from the Health and Human Services Department revealed many nursing homes are vulnerable when it comes to disasters like a hurricane or tornado. Not only did investigators find gaps in evacuation planning and transporting necessities to patients during evacuations, but investigators also discovered that facilities had inadequate procedures in place to be able to identify patients during and after evacuations.

In its study, the Health and Human Services Department identified facilities in the U.S. that appeared to be in compliance with federal regulations regarding emergency planning and training procedures. Investigators then tested how well the plans worked by looking at nursing homes that had been threatened or overtaken by wildfires, floods and hurricanes.

According to the investigation, none of these nursing homes had met the federal guidelines for making sure that patients had access to drinking water for at least seven days after a disaster. Additionally, none of the facilities that were investigated had adequate procedures in place to ensure that patients would receive enough food if they needed to be evacuated from the facility in the event of a natural disaster. Other findings in the report listed many more gaps in emergency plans amongst our nation’s nursing homes.

Source: USA Today, “Big gaps found in nursing homes’ disaster plans,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, April 16, 2012

Nursing Home Care


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