Natural disasters are an unpredictable fact of life for those of us living in the West. From seasonal wildfires and floods, to inevitable but unpredictable seismic and volcanic activity. We never can truly know when or where the next one will strike. The best protection is to be proactive & reactive. Prepare for the worst and take immediate steps toward recovery. Keep up to date on the latest news & incident reports. Take heed of evacuation orders and be prepared to leave. Here are some resources to track during a disaster
Flooding & Tsunamis
- USGS Volcano Alerts
- USGS Volcano Alerts Map
- Alaska Volcano Observatory
- California Volcano Observatory
- Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
- Volcano Preparedness
Recovery Resources :
MIEC insureds whose medical practice was damaged or lost during a recent disaster should contact MIEC as soon as possible. MIEC encourages our policyholders to contact the following resources to help them and their patients address problems which currently impact their daily practice. MIEC insureds should contact Underwriting, Claims or Patient Safety & Risk Management departments at 510-428-9411 for assistance with any specific issues or concerns as they pertain to coverage, patient-specific questions, and general questions such as practice management and maintaining medical records.
Take care of patients’ immediate healthcare needs:
Follow-Up: If possible or accessible, review your office schedule to determine which of your patients missed appointments during the disaster, and review upcoming appointments. Attempt to contact these patients to confirm their situation, and document your efforts in the respective charts. If your office was directly impacted by the fires and you are unable to see patients, refer your patients to alternative sources of care such as colleagues, the ER, or urgent care clinic. Carefully document any instructions given to patients.
NOTE:California law allows pharmacies in a declared emergency area to dispense emergency medication refills without physician authorization. For additional information, see Section 4062 and Section 4064, or contact the California State Board of Pharmacy at www.pharmacy.ca.gov.
Once your patients’ medical issues have been adequately addressed, you will need to address any loss or damage to your practice, including your medical records:
For electronic devices damaged by fire or water:
DriveSavers Data Recovery offers assistance with repairs of hard drives. Contact them at: https://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/
For paper charts that have been damaged by water, recovery experts recommend handling wet records as little as possible and keep them from molding. If possible, contact a professional document drying company as soon as you are able.One example: Contact Polygon Group for a Complimentary consultation by calling: 1-800-422-6379 or email: email@example.com.
If you cannot contact a professional document drying company within 48 hours, there are some basic things you can do to save paper records.
- Contact your general liability carrier for resources and services to assist you in your recovery (e.g., fans, dehumidifiers).
- Intensify the air circulation in the storage area (to avoid humidity) and decrease the temperature.
- Start with the wettest documents.
- Don’t open or try to clear your charts.
- Freeze your charts.
- For more information on freezing and defrosting charts safely, review this article from the American Academy of Family Physicians (http://www.aafp.org/fpm/1998/0500/p76.html). Don’t thaw records without the assistance of a professional.
- Pack records snuggly to keep them for moving during transport.
** Third-party companies are listed as available resources only. MIEC has not evaluated these businesses, nor do we specifically recommend any specific vendor. We encourage you to research additional resources that might be available to you.
In the event that your paper records were destroyed, and you need to reconstruct patient charts, it is important that you rely only on information that is verifiable from other sources as opposed to your recollection or that of your staff. After exhausting alternative sources of information within your practice, contact physician colleagues with whom you may be co-managing patients and, with your patients’ signed authorization, obtain copies of your patients’ information from their charts. Additional potential sources of patient information include labs, pharmacies, transcription or billing services, insurers, local hospitals, or the patients themselves.
Advise your patients in writing that their records have been destroyed and re-created based on other records and verifiable information. If necessary, ask your patients to provide any records they may have in their possession to further develop your reconstructed chart.