Planning frenzy

There seems to be a lot of activity in hospitals now focusing on planning for swine flu and I am getting numerous highly specific questions on how we will deal with vaccine, ill employees, post-exposure prophylaxis, visitor policies and other infection control issues. At this point, detailed planning is likely to be futile since there are many unknowns. Just about the only thing that we can say for sure is that the flu is always unpredictable. As I see it, how we approach swine flu in the hospital will depend on the following:
• Vaccine supply and efficacy
• Susceptibility of the virus to antivirals
• Supply of antivirals
• Supply of consumables (surgical masks, N95 masks, etc)
• Prevalence of influenza in the community
• Virulence of the circulating virus and severity of illness
Since it is likely that some of the variables above will change over time, we will need to make many decisions in real time, and our swine flu plan is likely to have a dozen or more iterations as the flu season unfolds. Stay tuned.


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