August 1st 2013
Organizational Crisis: Anthrax Outbreak in a Hospital
Tuesday morning, the United States Hospitals, day to day operations began just like any other. By 10:00am, during the administration’s morning meeting, the sound of the code red alarm rang throughout the facility. Dr. Inspection, an epidemiologist, informs the team that he has positive test results identifying anthrax in the system of 10 patients. Shock crosses all faces in the board room, but survival mode quickly takes over. The hospital administration and Committee Chair agree with the recommendation of the epidemiologist to enact the bioterrorism readiness plan. The procedures had just been written into the IC policy 9 months ago. Although the document does have a multi-disciplinary approach, it has not been tested with a practice drill. The Chief of Medicine alerts local emergency networks that anthrax is present at the United States Hospital and several patients are being treated on site. In order to save lives, the first responders must act fast to prevent the radiation from spreading to additional people and treat the individuals that have been exposed.
When a bioterrorism outbreak occurs, the initial site of recognition is frequently a medical facility. It is essential that large healthcare institutions, like the United States Hospital, have risk management strategies in place that reduce the number of possible casualties. The plan drafted by the board addresses both proactive and reactive circumstances. Proactive components are activities to help prevent harm or injury to an individual and reactive components include actions in response to adverse occurrences or a loss ("Indian Health Service," 2013). The four steps to access the risk at hand begins with gathering and the utilization of data. This consists of research to diagnose or identify the potential threat. If there is risk involved, that causes an adverse effect to patience care and/or hospital staff in the situation. The answer to the question, “how much will the threat impact the hospital,” will determine the prognosis of the risk. The hospital administration and board make thorough decisions to manage the risk with a number of precautions to protect the thousands of people on the facilities grounds (Franz, Jahrling, Friedlander, McClain, Hoover and Bryne, 1997). The United States Hospital bioterrorism readiness plan is very cautious about any biological warfare threats made to the facility. Whether the threat is an external attack to the hospital, such as a terrorist bombing or an internal threat like a plaque that is on the verge of becoming an epidemic, both are handled with the same emergency response methods (Noah DL, Sovel AL, Ostroff SM, & Kildew JA, 1998). Corporate responsibility is a focus in the hospital mission and ideals. The administration always activates the emergency response systems even if it’s a suspected outbreak (Holloway, Norwood, Fullerton, Engel and Ursano, 1997). Contact information to notify local infection control personnel and the local and state health departments, FBI field office, local police, CDC, and medical emergency services is outlined as the first priority in the plan. The United States Hospital is prepared for all scenarios including suspicion of a bioterrorism outbreak potentially associated with an undercover attack or a public threat of infecting the population. The decision to rule out a bioterrorism event should only be made by the FBI and state health officials (Noah, Sovel, Ostroff & Kildew, 1998). All information remains confidential from the public, until a formal statement to the press by the hospitals public relations department.
Epidemiologist Dr. Inspector was the whistle blower by being the first to identify the anthrax poisoning in patients. He had a suspicion biological warfare was the cause based on his assessment of the patient’s symptoms, which pointed to an endemic disease...
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