A hazard vulnerability analysis (HVA) is the foundational element a health care organization uses to guide the development of its emergency preparedness plan. The HVA is a risk assessment that is performed to identify the probable types of disasters that could occur at a facility and the impact that the event would have on the organization. The results are then sorted to determine the highest risk items that should be addressed in emergency management planning.

Historically, many health care organizations performed an analysis mainly because their authority having jurisdiction mandated they do so. Rather than just being another item to check off the survey readiness to-do list, the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) created a task force to dive deeper into this requirement and create a tool that would provide more value to its membership.

The big difference between ASHE’s new HVA form (which can be accessed at the link above) and previous versions is that the new version stratifies the weight of inputted information differently to place a higher importance on the mitigation efforts a team has completed to prepare for risks identified during the assessment.

For example, on the previous version of the form, hurricanes may consistently score highest on the HVA for a hospital in Florida. Because the probability of a hurricane hitting the coast remains likely high, the new form allows organizations to place a greater weight on the steps they have taken to minimize the effects of such an event. This, in turn, could demote hurricanes from being the top-ranked priority year after year. If the biggest concern listed on an HVA in 2022 has been a repeated concern since 2012, then either there is still more that can be done to prepare for that event, or it is time to reevaluate and identify the next critical focus area.

While using an HVA matrix is not required, the tool provides an easy-to-use guide to help emergency preparedness teams identify the weaknesses that need further planning and improvement. The opportunity to practice real-life examples using this tool and learn more about emergency management for a facility is available during ASHE’s Physical Environment Survey Readiness Program sessions.