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New AHRQ tool can help hospitals better prepare for a disaster

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality has developed a new resource to help hospitals assess their readiness in the event of a disaster. This first-ever evidence-based tool, which can help hospitals evaluate their disaster training drills, is now available from AHRQ. The new resource, Evaluation of Hospital Disaster Drills: A Module-Based Approach, is designed to help hospitals identify strengths and weaknesses in their responses during a disaster drill and improve their ability to fulfill required emergency management plans. It is available from AHRQ as a spiral-bound, color-coded notebook with accompanying CD-ROM.

Developed by the AHRQ-sponsored Evidence-based Practice Center at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, the new tool is based on several key principles, including the need to plan drill objectives, train observers, document drill activities, and debrief all participants. The tool's evaluation modules are designed to capture all phases of drill activities, such as pre-drill planning and recording activities in each area of the hospital including incident command, decontamination, triage, and treatment. The tool also includes four supplemental forms to help institutions customize their drills to practice response to specific health threats such as a bioterrorism incident.

The CD version of the modules includes a spreadsheet designed to help hospitals compile responses from the modules and compare data on topics such as how the hospital performs on repeated exercises, how different parts of the hospital perform on the same factors, or how different hospitals perform when participating in the same drill. The tool also includes detailed instructions on how to use the modules when planning and carrying out an evaluation of hospital disaster drills.

Copies of Evaluation of Hospital Disaster Drills: A Module-Based Approach (AHRQ Publication No. 04-0032) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse. The new training resource is one of over 50 studies, workshops, conferences and other activities funded under the Agency's bioterrorism research portfolio.

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