Chief Quality Officer Orlando Regional Medical Center Orlando, Florida
Closing a busy Emergency Department due to an exposure from a patient contaminated with chemicals is detrimental to the community. Patients, hospital workers, and EMS crews may be exposed if procedures are not in place to identify potential hazardous situations and prevent secondary exposures from taking place. Orange County Fire Rescue, working with the Orange County EMS Medical Director and local hospital partners developed a “Hazmat Alert” procedure to keep EMS and hospital providers, patients, and others safe. Since the deployment of the “Hazmat Alert” notification system, the strategy has significantly improved the safe transition of patient care from a hot zone to the hospital. Actual calls will be discussed where if not for the Hazmat Alert process, others may have become seriously sick or died from a secondary exposure. The “Hazmat Alert” process identifies when Patients exposed to suspicious materials will be evaluated and decontaminated in a manner that allows the Emergency Department to feel comfortable bringing the patient into their facility while continuing operations without diversion or risk to their staff or to other patients.