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Nurse Survey Shows Deficiencies in Hospital Flu Readiness

A patient health and safety survey of 190 American hospitals from coast to coast compiled by registered nurses in eight different states finds that a disturbing number of U.S. healthcare facilities are not prepared for the coming novel H1N1influenza pandemic, according to results released today by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

The data reflects a survey conducted over the past four weeks by RNs in hospitals in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

What the RNs reported are wide gaps in safety gear, infection control training, and post-exposure procedures. Among key findings:

-- At more than one-fourth of the hospitals, nurses cite inadequate isolation of swine flu patients, increasing the risk of infection to others.

-- Nurses at 15 percent of hospitals do not have access to the proper respirator masks, exposing nurses and patients to infection; at up to 40 percent of the hospitals, nurses are expected to re-use masks, in violation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

-- At 18 percent of the hospitals, RNs report that nurses have become infected; one Sacramento, Calif. RN has already died.

CNA/NNOC is calling on all hospitals to adhere to the highest standard of protection for patients and nurses to combat the expected onslaught of new cases this fall and winter, and urging legislators to strengthen public protections.

"These continuing problems increase the risk that many hospitals will become vectors for infection, with inadequate patient protections leading to a spread of the pandemic among other patients, their friends, family, and caregivers, and the surrounding community," warned Deborah Burger, RN, CNA/NNOC co-president. "What we're hearing from around the country is dangerous to patient health and safety, but with smart and clinically appropriate leadership we can fix policies in time for the upcoming pandemic."

Among other findings:

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