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Severe Weather and Hurricane Preparedness

May 23, 2024

Kenneth E. Rhea, MD, FASHRM

Severe Weather and Hurricane Preparedness
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Once again, we are entering the Atlantic hurricane season beginning June 1, 2024. While everyone should be concerned and plan for hurricanes and weather events, that concern is even more significant for those in the Gulf South region. In the event of a hurricane or weather event, a good disaster preparedness plan is essential to ensure continued medical care for patients by ensuring that a functioning practice still exists after the event. There is a real possibility of medical practice closure without recovery protocols and procedures, i.e., disaster preparedness planning. Now is the time to review your preparedness situation. If you have no plans, begin the process now, and if you do have a plan, review the contents, including vital staff training.  

There are several vital types of planning:

  • Medical records protection and access, including backup procedures, locations of backed-up information and procedures to access record information both during and after the storm
  • Communications including workforce communication methods, patient communication methods, and collaborative arrangements with hospitals and ASCs
  • Essential business functions and operations including workforce assignments and staff availability
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Medical facility protection including power, utilities and EHR systems
  • Privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) including methods of secure communications, authentication and release of PHI to patients and authorities consistent with the Security Rule required standard to “ … Protect against any reasonably anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of such information.”
  • Review insurance protection and levels of coverage including access to immediate payment methods

Other planning considerations will be needed for operations after the storm, including: 

  • Restoration of practice operations such as backup retrieval and facility recovery or use of alternate locations
  • Documentation of events including the plan, individuals involved, patient encounters and information for insurance claims

The effects of disasters such as hurricanes and major weather events can be devastating. There is a historical potential for risk to medical practices and patients. Risk evaluations and necessary, appropriate actions should be ongoing, but they take on even more significance for hurricane season. All medical practices should review and update, if needed, their risk evaluations and other disaster mitigation plans.

LAMMICO reminds policyholders of resources available to help you prepare in the event of a weather emergency to limit disruption to your practice. Policyholders can access our complimentary Hurricane Preparedness Manual for Medical Practices by logging into as a Member. Encourage office managers to download a copy for helpful tools such as checklists and emergency tips unique to medical practices. The guide is available in the "Risk Management - Reference Manuals" section in the right-hand navigation of the Member homepage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights also offers resources to guide you in emergency preparedness, planning and response to help minimize downtime and return to daily operations as soon as possible. To access these resources, click here. Other general government HIPAA disaster preparedness planning information is available at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). 

Remember, LAMMICO is here to protect our policyholders. We are confident in the strength of our business continuity efforts to ensure that we can continue to serve you with minimal disruption in the event of a hurricane or weather emergency.

For more information, please contact the LAMMICO Risk Management and Patient Safety Department at 504.841.5211.

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