The American College of Emergency Physicians has released a national strategic plan on how to manage emergency departments during outbreaks of the H1N1 influenza virus, or swine flu. The plan was produced under contract with two offices under HHS—the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Emergency Care Coordination Center—and is intended to help the nation's emergency departments and first responders plan for and manage a surge in H1N1 cases that could arrive as early as September, according to ACEP.
ACEP outlines plan for managing emergency departments during swine flu outbreak
The 16-page plan said previous pandemic patterns of the 20th century show that healthcare providers should prepare for a higher level of virulence in the fall months, which occurred both in 1918 and 1957. The plan, titled the National Strategic Plan for Emergency Department Management of Outbreaks of Novel H1N1 Influenza, formed its management strategy based on these capabilities: situational awareness; protection of the emergency department infrastructure and personnel; prevention of disruptions in service delivery; organized, timely surge medical response; and recovery to the previous “steady state.” The plan includes 26 categories for managing an outbreak and includes specific action items for hospital emergency departments to follow within those categories.
“When H1N1 first hit the United States this spring, we saw big surges in patients, many of whom had been sent to us by their primary-care physicians,” Nicholas Jouriles, president of ACEP, said in a news release. “We know the ER is the place people turn to in a medical crisis, and we are dedicated to being prepared for the worst-case scenarios, even as we hope they will not occur.
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