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J Korean Soc Emerg Med > Volume 22(1); 2011 > Article
Journal of The Korean Society of Emergency Medicine 2011;22(1): 72-78.
H1N1 Influenza: Hospital Countermeasures and the Need for Planning
Young Hoon Yoon, Sung Hyuk Choi, Han Jin Cho, Jung Youn Kim, Chul Han, Kang Hyun Lee, Sang Do Shin
1Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Korea. kuedchoi@korea.ac.kr
2Department of Emergency Medicine, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea.
3Department of Emergency Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
With a surge of H1N1 patients on November 2009, about 3 million confirmed or suspected cases and 140 deaths have been reported in Korea. The chaotic crisis brought on by patient overcrowding in emergency departments (EDs) nationwide was unique since the establishment of the countries' emergency medicine system. This article analyzes the present status of H1N1 influenza A virus-induced ED overcrowding and the coping strategies of the affected hospitals, with the aim of guiding the formation of strategies to better handle future illness outbreaks.
Telephone inquiries were made and e-mail questionnaires were distributed to general hospitals nationwide. The telephone inquiries were made twice, before and after the surge of flu-suspected-patients' visits to EDs. The surveyed hospitals were arbitrarily selected, considering the degree of regional representation.
Coping with the surge of flu-suspected patients imposed a heavy burden of patient overcrowding on EDs. There was only palliative countermeasure and no exhaustive plans for influenza epidemic preparedness.
Flu patient overcrowding imposed a heavy burden on the EDs of the surveyed hospitals, especially in the evening and overnight hours. Planning concerning community preparedness, public health communications, and work-force support is needed. New guidelines and strategies should be established to prevent ED overcrowding in future pandemics.
Key words: Influenza, Policy development, Crowding
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