Limited Response Rate for Survey on Hospitals’ Earthquake-Readiness
Almost 50% of 200 Southern California hospitals have not provided information requested by federal and state officials about their readiness for a catastrophic earthquake, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Experts have estimated that more than 60% of Los Angeles-area hospitals could not continue operating after a major earthquake along the San Andreas Fault.
In early 2011, federal and state officials surveyed facilities near the fault for information about earthquake-readiness, such as:
- How many backup generators the hospitals' had;
- What fuel they burned; and
- Whether their water tanks could sustain a catastrophic earthquake.
The survey -- approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- was developed to help improve post-earthquake recovery efforts.
Howard Backer -- the director of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority -- found that only 50% to 60% of hospitals across eight counties have responded to the survey.
The facilities that responded to the survey include:
- Dignity Health;
- Three Providence hospitals in the San Fernando Valley; and
- UCLA Medical Center.
Hospitals' Reasons for Limited Response Rate
Some hospitals said they did not respond to the survey because they were worried about government intrusion in facility operations.
Kaiser Permanente of Southern California was the largest group of hospitals that did not respond.
A Kaiser spokesperson said that the hospital system had concerns about "the format and the amount of details being asked for in this optional questionnaire."
Backer said that the limited response rate was the result of hospitals' concerns about whether "the information would be kept completely confidential, whether it would be available to licensing agencies."
Jan Emerson-Shea -- spokesperson for the California Hospital Association -- said the group was concerned that it was not involved with the survey from the beginning and that the questionnaire was issued outside of "normal communications channels."
CHA said the group later worked with officials to review and refine the questions.
Officials say that the low response rate is hurting their ability to help hospitals plan for earthquake emergencies.
Arthur L. Kellermann -- an emergency expert at RAND Corporation -- said, "These hospitals are getting hundreds of millions -- maybe billions -- of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid every year, and they can't fill out a questionnaire of interest to the country and Southern California? I find that deeply disturbing."
CHA and state and local officials have begun negotiations to create an earthquake-preparedness survey that would be sent to all California hospitals this year.
The article was produced by the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting. The center is supported by a grant from CHCF, which publishes California Healthline (Schoch, Los Angeles Daily News, 1/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.