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Fire and Safety Measures: A Need In Today’s Healthcare System

A major fire broke out in Mumbai's ESIC Kamgar Hospital; the fire incident went up to eight on December 18 which has highlighted the concerns about fire safety measures followed in the government run hospitals. Eight to 10 fire tenders were rushed to the spot to rescue the victims and over 140 people were injured as a massive fire swept through the government-run ESIC Kamgar Hospital.

Fires can be devastating, especially in a hospital where a large number of people who need to be evacuated may be vulnerable like patients who are immuno compromised, on life support, and incapable of moving on their own. There are special requirements that must be met with while evacuating such people in case of fire emergencies. But before that – “fires must be prevented”.

NABH has taken a step forward to implement fire and safety measures by making emergency response plan a mandatory requirement in the hospitals. This step would assure safety for patients as well as the healthcare workers. ERP is a set of written protocols that guide the actions to be taken during an emergency. This facilitates recovery efforts and considerably reduces the impacts that could occur during an emergency. NABH has introduced certain precautionary measures which would help the healthcare organization to prevent fire in future. Precautions such as implementation of fire fighting infrastructures (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fire exit signages), mock drills for staff are recommended by NABH in the hospitals.

Healthcare organizations that falls under high risk for potential fire exposure includes hospitals that lack in performing regular mock drills, lack in staff education about fire safety and escape routes, unavailability of NOC from state fire department, non availability of fire-rated doors at operation theatre, ICU, pediatric rooms, and undefined signages and exit door at premises that makes it difficult for patient and staff to find emergency fire exit doors. This is where an HMC come into focus. Healthcare management consultancy (HMC) assistance can be of great importance as it identifies the problems that might cause a great threat in the healthcare organizations and provides solutions that are suitable and affordable for the organization.