A crisis is an adverse situation that arises without warning and it can occur in hospitals too. The only thing one can predict about a crisis is that it can occur anytime. Since hospitals are places where hundreds of people meet, they must be readily prepared to meet crises head-on and manage them instantly and effectively.
How Can Hospitals Manage a Crisis Effectively?
Hospitals, as a rule, are accustomed to clinical emergencies and crises. But are they prepared to handle external emergencies? These emergencies may be in the form of a natural disaster like a flood or fire or even a pandemic like the Ebola or Covid-19 virus. Such crisis situations call for immediate response and tact in handling them. They require specific steps to contain, control and curb the situation. Hospitals must be ever-ready to face and handle such emergency situations.
The basic thumb rule in managing a crisis is to “be prepared”. This statement may seem paradoxical but every hospital must expect such a crisis anytime and be prepared for it. The only way a hospital can be well-equipped to face the situation is by “planning in advance”.
Planning for a crisis involves simulating such crisis conditions at the hospital and training the staff to handle them through emergency drills. Drills can be conducted to train hospital personnel to handle natural calamities like fire, flood or earthquake. Safety measures and quarantine training can be given to teach the staff to handle pandemics. By acting proactively and educating the staff well beforehand, the hospital can be in a state of readiness to confront the crisis. Hospitals can avail the services of an expert healthcare consulting firm to conduct such safety drills to prepare their staff for a crisis.
The next important thing to do in a crisis is to “respond immediately”. Inaction or inertia can prove costly in a crisis. Assessing the situation and formulating an immediate action plan is vital to contain the crisis. A competent hospital administrator can effortlessly tide over a crisis if he sets the agenda for crisis coverage rightly. He/she can then galvanize the team into action by delegating responsibilities and ensuring that they are executed effectively.
Here teamwork and unity is very important in managing the crisis at a hospital. For cohesive teamwork, good communication is the key. The crisis management at the hospital can be done usually only by someone who communicates well and whom the staff will listen to.
The communication during the crisis must not only be clear but of a single voice. Multiple instructions or messages will only confuse the team and end up in worsening the crisis. So, ensure that the communication during the crisis is clear and unified to both the internal staff or to the external media.
Another important factor in handling a crisis is to be flexible and proceed on step at a time, taking the crisis as it comes. A crisis situation can emerge and evolve continuously, changing its nature and gravity. The hospital must be prepared to change its approach according to the course of the crisis in order to overcome it effectively.
Over and above all this, what is required is both courage and patience when it comes to crisis management at the hospital. These alone will help the hospital manage the crisis efficiently.
Finally, every hospital must learn from the crises it faced. It should make a note of the effects during the aftermath of each crisis. This will help the hospital to identify the rights and wrongs in its crisis management strategy. This will ensure that the hospital handles the crisis better next time.
A crisis can occur anytime at a hospital. All the hospital must do is stay alert, aware and agile in handling the crisis.