Bioterrorism Readiness Plan: A Template for Healthcare Facilities
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) recognizes the importance of awareness and preparation for bioterrorism on the part of healthcare facilities. In cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), APIC offers this Bioterrorism Readiness Plan to serve as a reference document and initial template to facilitate preparation of bioterrorism readiness plans for individual institutions.
This document is not intended to provide an exhaustive reference on the topic of bioterrorism. Rather it is intended to serve as a tool for infection control (IC) professionals and healthcare epidemiologists to guide the development of practical and realistic response plans for their institutions in preparation for a real or suspected bioterrorism attack. Institution-specific response-plans should be prepared in partnership with local and state health departments. Many of the facility bioterrorism planning components may be incorporated into existing disaster preparedness and other emergency management plans. These components may also be useful for identifying and responding to other infectious disease outbreaks in the community. Individual facilities should determine the extent of their bioterrorism readiness needs, which may range from notification of local emergency networks (i.e. calling 911) and transfer of affected patients to appropriate acute care facilities, to activation of large, comprehensive communication and management networks.
Hospitals and clinics may have the first opportunity to recognize and initiate a response to a bioterrorism-related outbreak. Healthcare facilities should have IC policies in place authorizing the healthcare epidemiologist, IC committee chairman, or designee to rapidly implement prevention and control measures in response to a suspected outbreak. Should a bioterrorism event be suspected, a network of communication must be activated to involve IC personnel, healthcare administration, local and state health departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office, and CDC (see Reporting Requirements and Contact Information below). Existing local emergency plans should be reviewed, and a multidisciplinary approach outlined that includes local emergency medical services (EMS), police and fire departments, and media relations in addition to healthcare providers and IC professionals. Annual disaster preparedness drills held at many facilities can improve response capacity by incorporating a bioterrorism scenario to test and refine Bioterrorism Readiness Plans at each individual facility.