Medical Office Emergency Procedures

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Smiling doctor in office
Smiling doctor in office (Image: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

Most medical offices are prepared for sick patients and health ailments, but office managers must prepare for other types of emergencies as well, such as natural disasters, man-made threats and biological disasters. An article on the American Academy of Family Physician’s website explains that medical office staff should be trained and prepared for any type of disaster.

Bloodborne Pathogens

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the most frequently requested emergency standard for medical and dental offices is the blood-borne pathogens procedure. This type of emergency may occur when employees are exposed to contaminated blood, and employees must be trained to prevent it, as well as what to do if an incident occurs. Some common prevention procedures include implementing a written exposure control plan, using personal protective equipment -- such as gloves, gowns and eye and face masks -- and providing all office personnel the Hepatitis B vaccine. Other procedures are using color-coded storage and trash containers, as well as training all staff how to properly contain regulated waste.

X-Ray and Radiation

Most medical offices have X-ray machines, and they can be potentially harmful if a malfunction occurs. Many offices create restricted areas around these machines, as well as require personnel to wear radiation monitors, such as pocket dosimeters or film badges. X-ray rooms must be labeled with caution signs as well.

Evacuation Procedures

In the event of a fire, bomb threat or other emergency that requires office evacuation, all exit routes must be clearly marked and accessible. Most medical offices practice fire drills, as well as have a diagram of evacuation routes posted in highly visible locations. During a fire, the priorities are removing the patients, alerting the fire department, containing the fire by closing doors, and extinguishing the fire if possible. Many offices have designated personnel to check all examination rooms and restrooms to ensure all patients have been evacuated. Other procedures may include turning off machines, storing all private patient files or records in fireproof file cabinets, and canceling later patient appointments.

Community Disasters

When a natural disaster or terrorist act occurs, the community looks to its emergency responders and medical personnel for help. This means that some medical offices must not only respond to immediate office items, but also be prepared to help at offsite locations. Many medical offices have set procedures in place to handle these types of emergencies. Most include a full kit that has flashlights, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, crash kits, IV supplies and backup generator. Other common supplies in the kit include wound care supplies such as bandages, gloves and tape, standard medications such as antibiotics or analgesics, oxygen and medical reference books.

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