• Kyodo


More than half of specially designated hospitals for emergencies have yet — due partly to a lack of manpower — to draw up manuals spelling out how to continue operating after a major natural disaster hits, a Kyodo News survey showed Monday.

The government has urged the so-called disaster base hospitals to compile such manuals following the catastrophic March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that paralyzed many hospital functions in northeastern Japan.

The manuals, equivalent to business continuity plans at corporations, are supposed to detail medium- to long-term post-disaster measures, including preparations to minimize damage being caused by a natural disaster and arrangements for restoring normal operations.

The designated hospitals have helipads, quake-resistant facilities and specially trained medical staff, and are expected to provide medical care to injured or wounded around the clock in natural disasters or terror attacks.

Among the 715 hospitals polled, 393 institutions, or 55 percent, do not yet have such a manual, including 177 institutions that are currently working on the issue and 16 that have no plans to compile such a document, according to the survey.

The remaining 45 percent, or 322 institutions, have completed manuals, the survey found.

As to why such manuals have not been made or completed yet, the Kagoshima Prefectural Government said hospitals there “have no time to spare” and “lack human resources.” Only one hospital in that prefecture has finished compiling such a manual.

The Yamaguchi Prefectural Government also cited the “scarcity of know-how and manpower,” while the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said hospitals seem to be spending a long time on in-house coordination.

As many hospitals already have manuals that focus on how to initially respond to disasters, the Yamanashi Prefectural Government said the difference between that sort of document and the longer-term operating manual is unclear.

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