Broadening Access to Medical Care During a Severe Influenza Pandemic: The CDC Nurse Triage Line Project

Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University , Washington, DC
Biosecurity and bioterrorism: biodefense strategy, practice, and science (Impact Factor: 1.64). 03/2013; 11(1). DOI: 10.1089/bsp.2013.0012
Source: PubMed


The impact of a severe influenza pandemic could be overwhelming to hospital emergency departments, clinics, and medical offices if large numbers of ill people were to simultaneously seek care. While current planning guidance to reduce surge on hospitals and other medical facilities during a pandemic largely focuses on improving the "supply" of medical care services, attention on reducing "demand" for such services is needed by better matching patient needs with alternative types and sites of care. Based on lessons learned during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its partners are currently exploring the acceptability and feasibility of using a coordinated network of nurse triage telephone lines during a pandemic to assess the health status of callers, help callers determine the most appropriate site for care (eg, hospital ED, outpatient center, home), disseminate information, provide clinical advice, and provide access to antiviral medications for ill people, if appropriate. As part of this effort, the integration and coordination of poison control centers, existing nurse advice lines, 2-1-1 information lines, and other hotlines are being investigated.

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