Going Viral: Adapting to Pediatric Surge During the H1N1 Pandemic

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ObjectivesThe objective of this study was to assess hospital and emergency department (ED) pediatric surge strategies utilized during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic as well as compliance with national guidelines.MethodsElectronic survey was sent to a convenience sample of emergency physicians and nurses from US EDs with a pediatric volume of more than 10,000 annually. Survey questions assessed the participant’s hospital baseline pandemic and surge preparedness, as well as strategies for ED surge and compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for health care personal protection, patient testing, and treatment.ResultsThe response rate was 54% (53/99). Preexisting pandemic influenza plans were absent in 44% of hospitals; however, 91% developed an influenza plan as a result of the pandemic. Twenty-four percent reported having a preexisting ED pandemic staffing model, and 36% had a preexisting alternate care site plan. Creation and/or modifications of existing plans for ED pandemic staffing (82%) and alternate care site plan (68%) were reported. Seventy-nine percent of institutions initially followed CDC guidelines for personal protection (use of N95 masks), of which 82% later revised their practices. Complete compliance with CDC guidelines was 60% for patient testing and 68% for patient treatment.ConclusionsBefore the H1N1 pandemic, greater than 40% of the hospitals in our study did not have an influenza pandemic preparedness plan. Many had to modify their existing plans during the surge. Not all institutions fully complied with CDC guidelines. Data from this multicenter survey should assist clinical leaders to create more robust surge plans for children.

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