ACEP Streamlines Swine Flu Info for ED Settings

ACEP News 
June 2009

By Heidi Splete

Elsevier Global Medical News

In response to the outbreak of the 2009-H1N1 virus, the American College of Emergency Physicians has convened a task force to provide concise, timely information for emergency physicians.

That effort, in collaboration with the federal government's Emergency Care Coordination Center (ECCC), will provide guidance on the projected effects of H1N1 and develop recommendations on various matters such as surge capacity, triage methods, protocols, and emergency department management strategies.

The ACEP H1N1 (Swine Flu) Guidance Review Team developed a list of frequently asked questions about the virus aimed at emergency physicians.

"We wanted to get something out to physicians from our perspective--what does an emergency physician or emergency department director need to know about this right now," said Dr. Jeff Runge, a consultant to ACEP and president of Biologue Inc., a medical preparedness and biodefense consulting firm based in McLean, Va.

The questions came from ACEP members, along with questions that Dr. Runge and his colleagues on the review team deemed important for emergency physicians, said Marilyn Bromley, director of ACEP's emergency medicine practice department. The answers were compiled by Dr. Runge and the review team based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and their own expertise.

"This will be somewhat of a living document," she said. The topics include how doctors should treat patients, and how they should treat themselves, as well as logistical issues such as dealing with crowded waiting rooms and triage. The H1N1 information will be updated regularly as more information becomes available.

"What this exercise has shown us is that we need to be prepared for the next wave," Dr. Runge said. During the next few months, ACEP will be looking at some of the technical considerations of a possible pandemic that apply to emergency physicians and are less likely to be answered by the CDC, such as how to manage a crowded waiting area full of patients with respiratory infections and fevers.

The ECCC approached ACEP to develop and disseminate the guidelines to assist in the care of patients during a pandemic. The recently established ECCC helps manage federal emergency medical care efforts and advance the science and delivery of emergency and trauma health care.

Viisit ACEP's Web site, www.acep.org, for the H1N1 FAQs and links to H1N1 virus resources.

H1N1 Flu Resources for ACEP Members

Resources for emergency physicians about the 2009 H1N1 virus, available at www.acep.org, include frequently asked questions about:

  • Definitions.
  • Patient waiting and triage.
  • Emergency department care: Examination, testing, and disposition.
  • Considerations for staff.
  • Advice for patients.

Additional 2009 H1N1 resources available at www.acep.org include:

  • CDC guidance on screening and specimen collection, managing specific populations such as pregnant women and cardiovascular disease patients, and reducing disease transmission risk in the community.
  • Best practices for hospital preparedness.
  • ACEP policy statements on disaster planning and response.
  • CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report with updates on 2009 H1N1 cases.
  • Information on respiratory hygiene.
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