An influenza pandemic will place a significant burden on the U.S. health care system. Published estimates based on the 1957 and 1968 pandemics suggest that there could be 839,000 to 9,625,000 hospitalizations, 18–42 million outpatient visits, and 20–47 million additional illnesses, depending on the rate of infection during the pandemic.
Health care providers play an essential role in the detection of an initial case of novel or pandemic influenza in a community. If implemented early, identification and isolation of cases may help slow the spread of influenza within a community. Clinical awareness of novel or pandemic influenza disease can also benefit the individual patient, as rapid diagnosis and initiation of treatment can avert potentially severe complications.
[LINK]Clinical Guidelines Summary[/LINK]Pre-pandemic planning by health care providers and facilities is therefore essential in order to provide quality, uninterrupted care to ill persons and prevent further spread of infection.
All health care facilities and providers should:
- Create a planning team and develop a written plan.
- Establish a decision-making and coordinating structure that can be tested during the inter-pandemic period and will be activated during an influenza pandemic.
- Determine how to conduct surveillance for pandemic influenza in health care personnel and, for residential facilities, in the population served.
- Develop policies and procedures for managing pandemic influenza in patients and staff.
- Educate and train health care personnel on pandemic influenza and the health care facility’s response plan.
- Determine how the facility will communicate and coordinate with health care partners and public health authorities during a pandemic.
- Determine how the facility will communicate with patients and help educate the public regarding prevention and control measures.
- Develop a plan for procuring the supplies (e.g., personal protective equipment [PPE]) needed to manage influenza patients.
- Determine how the facility will participate in the community plan for distributing either vaccine or antiviral drugs, including possibly serving as a point of distribution and providing staff for alternative community points of distribution.
Health Care Provider Resources
Influenza Planning Resources
Currently Available National Plans, World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO Global Influenza Preparedness Plan Document defines the role of WHO and recommendations for national measures before and during pandemics.
WHO Checklist for Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Planning