New Quick Safety advisory from The Joint Commission to prepare health care organizations for disasters

Advisory emphasizes importance of continuity of operations planning Friday, June 01 2018

Katie Looze Bronk
Corporate Communications

(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, May 29, 2018) – Power failure, fire, flood, industrial accident, cyberattack—disasters such as these can put both health care organizations and their patients at risk. A new Quick Safety advisory from The Joint Commission provides health care organizations with risk factors, safety recommendations and research on how to continue operations during an emergency. 

Continuity of operations planning (COOP) provides organizations with the resilience needed to protect, respond, recover and restore essential patient care services. Following a disaster, an organization’s capability to provide care, treatment and services can be disrupted for days, weeks, several months or longer. 

According to the advisory, best practices in COOP include, at a minimum:

  • Continuity of facilities and communications to support organizational functions.
  • A succession plan that lists who replaces the key leader(s) during an emergency if the leader is not available to carry out his or her duties.
  • A delegation of authority plan that describes the decisions and policies that can be implemented by authorized successors. 

The advisory also provides several safety actions for health care organizations to consider such as documenting leadership succession and delegations of authority; identifying the essential functions, capabilities and assets that must be protected to survive a disaster; and prioritizing likely risks and how the organization will invest in and implement mitigation activities.

Other safety actions include working with local emergency management, service providers and contractors to establish processes for effective communications, recovery and restoration, and the identification of alternate care sites, if needed. 

Resources from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C.; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; Health Information and Management Systems Society, Chicago; and others are highlighted in the advisory. 

The Quick Safety is available on The Joint Commission website. It may be reproduced if credited to The Joint Commission. 


About The Joint Commission
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at