As the height of the flu season approaches, a survey of 525 nurses from Americas leading hospitals reveals that 93 percent of nurses are confident that hospitals are far better prepared to handle a potential pandemic than they were this time last year. Additionally, 91 percent of the nurses responded that their hospitals had fully incorporated flu outbreaks into their emergency preparedness systems. Last years H1N1 influenza outbreak seems to have played a part in enhanced planning and awareness according to the nurses, with 82 percent indicating that the H1N1 pandemic was a humbling lesson from which we learned a lot.
The survey was jointly conducted by Kimberly-Clark Health Care and Baylor Health Care System in cooperation with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications and the CDC estimates that approximately 200,000 to 400,000 hospitalizations occurred during the 2009 H1N1 flu season. One area of concern for the nurses was that public knowledge of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), the prevention of which is important to containing illness in hospitals, was low. Only 40 percent of the nurses surveyed feel that the public is well informed on this issue.
Other important findings from the survey reflect flu preparedness and the need for further HAI education:
- 73 percent of nurses expect the upcoming flu season to be somewhat severe, but are prepared with the flu vaccine (92 percent plan to get it), flu education materials appropriate for all staff (69 percent of respondents have these) and a pandemic planning committee (68 percent of respondents have this).
- 60 percent of nurses noted that their hospitals HAI prevention program was nearly the same or only somewhat improved over the past year.
- 54 percent of nurses believe the public needs more education about the benefits of HAI prevention programs.
The survey results are encouraging, says Wava Truscott, PhD, director of medical sciences and education at Kimberly-Clark Health Care. Clearly our hospitals have made great strides in emergency preparedness, and while we have a long way to go in ever being fully prepared, this is a positive step.
We were pleased to work with Kimberly-Clark Health Care to assess nurses level of preparedness when it comes to preventing the spread of flu and HAIs, says Rosemary Luquire, RN, PhD, senior vice president and chief nursing officer of Baylor Health Care System. As part of our vision to be trusted as the best place to give and receive safe, quality, compassionate care, Baylor has made flu preparedness a priority. This year, in fact, we revised our Universal Influenza Protocol Policy to emphasize the important role our employees play in flu prevention. As such, we are offering free flu shots to all staff members through Dec. 31, and have posted flu prevention information throughout all of our facilities.