The authors declare that they have no completing interests.
MR carried out the study. FR participated in the design of the study and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. CMB reviewed the analysis and edited the manuscript. DH participated in the design of the study and assisted in drafting and editing the manuscript. SL participated in the statistical element of the study. IJP designed the study, reviewed the analyses and revised the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
MR is an Infection Prevention and Control Clinical Nurse Specialist who works in an acute hospital.
When an influenza pandemic occurs most of the population is susceptible and attack rates can range as high as 40–50 %. The most important failure in pandemic planning is the lack of standards or guidelines regarding what it means to be ‘prepared’. The aim of this study was to assess the preparedness of acute hospitals in the Republic of Ireland for an influenza pandemic from an infection control perspective.
This was a cross sectional study involving a questionnaire completed by infection control nurses, time period from June – July 2013, (3 weeks) from acute public and private hospitals in the Republic of Ireland. A total of 46 out of 56 hospitals responded to the questionnaire.
From a sample of 46 Irish hospitals, it was found that Irish hospitals are not fully prepared for an influenza pandemic despite the 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. In 2013, thirty five per cent of Irish hospitals have participated in an emergency plan or infectious disease exercise and have plans or been involved in local planning efforts to care for patients at non-health care facilities. Sixty per cent of Irish hospitals did not compile or did not know if the hospital had compiled a “lessons learned” from any exercise that were then used to revise emergency response plans. Fifty two per cent of hospitals have sufficient airborne isolation capacity to address routine needs and have an interim emergency plan to address needs during an outbreak. Fifty one percent of hospitals have taken specific measures to stockpile or have reserve medical supplies e.g. masks, ventilators and linen.
This is the first study carried out in the Republic of Ireland investigating the current preparedness for an influenza pandemic from an infection control perspective.
Deficits exist in the provision of emergency planning committees, testing of emergency plans, airborne isolation facilities, stockpiling of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies and organisational schemes/incentives for healthcare workers to continue to work in a pandemic. While Irish standards are comparable to findings from international studies, the health care service needs to continue to enhance preparedness for an influenza pandemic and implement standard preparedness guidance for all Irish hospitals.