Pandemic H1N1 2009 Influenza Outbreak in Australia: Impact on Emergency Departments

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Title Pandemic H1N1 2009 Influenza Outbreak in Australia: Impact on Emergency Departments
Author FitzGerald, Gerard J; Patrick, Jennifer; Fielding, Elaine L; Shaban, Ramon Zenel; Arbon, Paul; Aitken, Peter; Considine, Julie; Clark, Michele J; Finucane, Julie; McCarthy, Sally M; Cloughessy, Liz; Holzhauser, Kerri; Hurst, Cameron
Publication Title Pandemic H1N1 2009 Influenza Outbreak in Australia: Impact on Emergency Departments
Year Published 2010
Place of publication Brisbane, Australia
Publisher Queensland University of Technology
Abstract Objective The aims of this study were to identify the impact of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza on Australian Emergency Departments (EDs) and their staff, and to inform planning, preparedness, and response management arrangements for future pandemics, as well as managing infectious patients presenting to EDs in everyday practice. Methods This study involved three elements: 1. The first element of the study was an examination of published material including published statistics. Standard literature research methods were used to identify relevant published articles. In addition, data about ED demand was obtained from Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) publications, with several state health departments providing more detailed data. 2. The second element of the study was a survey of Directors of Emergency Medicine identified with the assistance of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). This survey retrieved data about demand for ED services and elicited qualitative comments on the impact of the pandemic on ED management. 3. The third element of the study was a survey of ED staff. A questionnaire was emailed to members of three professional colleges—the ACEM; the Australian College of Emergency Nursing (ACEN); and the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia (CENA). The overall response rate for the survey was 18.4%, with 618 usable responses from 3355 distributed questionnaires. Topics covered by the survey included ED conditions during the (H1N1) 2009 influenza pandemic; information received about Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza; pandemic plans; the impact of the pandemic on ED staff with respect to stress; illness prevention measures; support received from others in work role; staff and others' illness during the pandemic; other factors causing ED staff to miss work during the pandemic; and vaccination against Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analysed. Results The results obtained from Directors of Emergency Medicine quantifying the impact of the pandemic were too limited for interpretation. Data sourced from health departments and published sources demonstrated an increase in influenza-like illness (ILI) presentations of between one and a half and three times the normal level of presentations of ILIs. Directors of Emergency Medicine reported a reasonable level of preparation for the pandemic, with most reporting the use of pandemic plans that translated into relatively effective operational infection control responses. Directors reported a highly significant impact on EDs and their staff from the pandemic. Growth in demand and related ED congestion were highly significant factors causing distress within the departments. Most (64%) respondents established a 'flu clinic' either as part of the ED operations or external to it. They did not note a significantly higher rate of sick leave than usual. Responses relating to the impact on staff were proportional to the size of the colleges. Most respondents felt strongly that Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza had a significant impact on demand in their ED, with most patients having low levels of clinical urgency. Most respondents felt that the pandemic had a negative impact on the care of other patients, and 94% revealed some increase in stress due to lack of space for patients, increased demand, and filling staff deficits. Levels of concern about themselves or their family members contracting the illness were less significant than expected. Nurses displayed significantly higher levels of stress overall, particularly in relation to skill-mix requirements, lack of supplies and equipment, and patient and patients' family aggression. More than one-third of respondents became ill with an ILI. Whilst respondents themselves reported taking low levels of sick leave, respondents cited difficulties with replacing absent staff. Ranked from highest to lowest, respondents gained useful support from ED c
Peer Reviewed No
Published Yes
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Copyright Statement Copyright 2010 FitzGerald GJ, Patrick JR, Fielding EL, Shaban RZ, Arbon P, Aitken P, Considine J, Clark MJ, Finucane J, McCarthy SM, Cloughessy L, Holzhauser K. All rights reserved. Cover photograph copyright 2010 Patrick JR.
Page from 1
Page to 124
ISBN or ISSN 9781741073225
Date Accessioned 2010-10-08
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Health Practice Innovation; Menzies Health Institute Qld
Faculty Griffith Health Faculty
Subject Public Health and Health Services
Publication Type Major Reviews/Reports
Publication Type Code d

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