Clinical Infectious Diseases
15 April 2010 Volume 50, Number 8
Healthcare Epidemiology: Planning for the Inevitable: Preparing for Epidemic and Pandemic Respiratory Illness in the Shadow of H1N1 Influenza
Elizabeth Lee Daugherty, Abigail L. Carlson, and Trish M. Perl
The recent outbreak of novel H1N1 influenza has underscored the importance of hospital preparedness in responding to epidemic and pandemic respiratory illness. Comprehensive planning for the emergence of novel respiratory pathogens should be based on an all‐hazards approach, with the input of key stakeholders. A staged, scalable model allows for a flexible response, and the addition of a medical control chief and a situational assessment chief to the incident command system provides the clinical and epidemiologic expertise essential for effective implementation. Strategies for coordinated and efficient communication both within and outside the institution should be clearly outlined. Furthermore, the outbreak of novel H1N1 influenza demonstrated the necessity of (1) additional support roles within the hospital, (2) development of employee databases, and (3) incorporation of disease severity into staged planning. Careful consideration of these issues will allow institutions to better meet the challenges of treating epidemic and pandemic respiratory illness, both now and in the future.