Logistics, health and aid: Five things not to do during a rupture - A Humourless Lot

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Five things not to do during a rupture

by Michael Keizer on April 1, 2009

So all your planning has gone for nothing, and for whatever reason you have a rupture in your supply line. What should you not do?

  1. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Take your own pulse. Stare at the ceiling. Kick the wall — hard. Kick your supply manager. Kick yourself. But for the sake of whatever you hold holy DO NOT PANIC. Yes, you have your medical director to one side screaming that people are dying and that you NEED! to take ACTION! NOW!, while to your other side your purchaser explains that the only ready source of paravenozole is highly suspect and in any case asks a prohibitive price. And yet you know that if you give in to your first instincts and do whatever can be done as quickly as possible, you will make costly and (more pertinently) dangerous mistakes. Keep that in mind and take some time to work out the possible options and what there results would be.
  2. Don’t play the blame game. Analyse later what went wrong and what can be learned, but for now don’t start blaming people (least of all yourself). The only result will be a lack of cooperation and an atmosphere of distrust that will prevent you from taking decisive and effective action.
  3. Don’t double-order. The temptation to put in an emergency order of paravenozole to get things in fast. However, it will probably mean that you will end up with overstocks once the previous order comes out of your pipeline (unless it has a very long expiry). Instead of double-ordering, first try to expedite the orders that are already in your pipeline. Talk with your suppliers and see what they can do, and how much extra it is going to cost; this is where your previous investments in a good relationship with your suppliers will pay off. Only double-order as a last resort, when nothing else works and it is clear that people will die or suffer if you don’t; but be clear about the likely consequences, which will include expiries and cost.
  4. Don’t change protocols. Discuss with your program managers what temporary changes can be implemented to circumvent or at least mitigate the rupture; but don’t change protocols because your staff will assume that it is permanent and will not thank you when they need to change back again.
  5. Don’t neglect to learn. Remember what I said about the blame game? However, that should not stand in the way of a thorough analysis of the reasons and causes of the rupture, and what can be learnt from them. Should your systems be changed? Should staff get more training? Or more supervision? What went wrong in your communications? Is your supply line as transparent as it should be? All valid and important questions, which (together with many others) you should ask yourself and your co-workers after the rupture has been resolved. If you don’t, you are on your way to the next one.

(Image: the weakest link by Darwin Bell. Some rights reserved.

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