Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children's hospitals not equipped to handle pandemics, study shows; Outbreak could quickly exhaust capacity

Date:
August 23, 2011
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
A new study shows children's hospitals nationwide are not equipped to handle a major surge of patients in the event of a pandemic.

A new study of children's hospitals nationwide has found them underequipped to handle a major surge of patients in the event of a pandemic, and urges health care institutions and government agencies to immediately review emergency preparedness plans as flu season approaches.

"Every year we get lucky," said the study's lead author, Marion Sills, MD, MPH, and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "But it wouldn't take much of an epidemic to put us over capacity. If that happens where do the children go?"

The study, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, examined data from 34 children's hospitals as they dealt with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which disproportionately affected children.

Researchers found the median occupancy rate in the hospitals was 95 percent during the H1N1 pandemic but this situation did not differ from typical levels of high occupancy commonly experienced. In the 2008-09 flu season, the median occupancy was 101 percent. Fortunately, the pandemic turned out to be milder than expected. Still, the study said, it would have only taken about 0.2 admissions per 10 beds per day to reach 100 percent occupancy across all hospitals in the study.

"Models representing an outbreak of a more virulent influenza virus based on historical comparisons demonstrate that modest increases in emergency department visits or emergency department admissions rates would have resulted in substantial overcrowding among the large cohort of children's hospitals in our study," Sills wrote.

According to Sills, pandemics last for weeks or months and affect large geographical areas, often multiple nations or continents. And even if children's hospitals could handle such occupancy rates on a short-term basis, there are real questions of whether they could do so for a prolonged period.

The findings are especially significant in the context of national disaster planning related to children. The National Commission on Children and Disasters 2010 Report to the President and Congress found serious deficiencies in the state of disaster/pandemic preparedness for children and recommended the creation of a regionalized pediatric care system to help rectify these deficiencies.

"Our study shows that children's hospitals, the central component of this proposed regionalized system, routinely operate so closely to capacity that little available reserve exists for even a modest surge of inpatients," Sills said.

She noted that while it might make financial sense to keep the hospitals 95 or 100 percent full, it might not make sense from a health care quality perspective.

"H1NI was not as virulent as people had feared, but the next one might be," Sills said. "The point of this paper is that it wouldn't take a much more virulent virus to get us into serious trouble."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Sills et al. Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Outbreaks and Preparedness at Children's Hospitals. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2011; (upcoming)

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Children's hospitals not equipped to handle pandemics, study shows; Outbreak could quickly exhaust capacity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823115647.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2011, August 23). Children's hospitals not equipped to handle pandemics, study shows; Outbreak could quickly exhaust capacity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823115647.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Children's hospitals not equipped to handle pandemics, study shows; Outbreak could quickly exhaust capacity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823115647.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins