August 27, 2009

Many hospitals not ready for H1N1 flu

A report on the experiences of nurses in 190 U.S. healthcare facilities indicates many hospitals are not ready for H1N1 flu.

The report by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, indicates at more than a fourth of hospitals in nine states nurses cite inadequate isolation of swine flu patients.

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

At 18 percent of the hospitals, registered nurses report nurses have become infected and one California nurse has already died from H1N1 flu. At 19 percent of the hospitals all or some appropriate N95 respirator masks were not fitted to ensure their effectiveness against the virus. More than one in five of the facilities do not have enough masks, the nurses said.

The nurses from hospitals in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas report wide gaps in safety gear, infection control training and post-exposure procedures.