Project Management

Crisis Management in Healthcare (Part 1): From Food Poisoning to Community Kitchen Project

PMI Pearl City, Hyderabad Chapter

Dr. Deepa Bhide, PMP is a physician and currently an independent healthcare IT and project management consultant. She has a postgraduate degree in Pediatrics and Neonatology from the University of Health Sciences, India. Deepa is an advocate of using project management in healthcare and related domains. She has worked extensively in the confluence of clinical medicine, IT and project management domains with hands-on experience in managing projects from conception to closure.

Food poisoning is a common unpleasant experience caused by consuming contaminated food or beverages. It can be a mild inconvenience—or a serious illness requiring medical attention. In this article, the first in my new series on crisis management in healthcare, I share an experience during my medical school days, describing a food poisoning incident with a focus on project management practices that were involved.

Like any other healthcare emergency, the focus of the food poisoning emergency was on saving precious lives and preventing such incidents in the future. It was a project with a variable time sensitivity that was dependent on the severity and spread of the outbreak, the availability of resources, and ways to prevent future events. The focus was on information management, containment of the outbreak, and treating individuals who were impacted.

The project had a high stakeholder management component with an increased need for communication, education and resourcing. Overall, the project had a broad impact and complex coordination that needed agile management and a diligent focus on outcomes (human lives).

The Incident
As a part of our medical school, we were posted in the infectious diseases hospital for our internship. One morning, our team noticed an unusual increase in gastroenteritis patients who presented with stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. They …

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'Human existence must be a kind of error. It may be said of it: "It is bad today and every day it will get worse, until the worst of all happens."'

- Arthur Schopenhauer