Nurses feel prepared for potential flu epidemic

A survey of 525 nurses from leading hospitals in the United States found that 93 percent of nurses feel confident that hospitals are “far better prepared” to handle a potential flu epidemic than they were at the same time last year.

The survey also found that 91 percent of the nurses felt their hospitals had fully incorporated the possibility of flu outbreaks into their systems for emergency preparedness. Eighty-two percent believed that the H1N1 pandemic was a “humbling lesson from which we learned a lot.”

The survey was conducted by Baylor Health Care System along with Kimberly-Clark Health Care in cooperation with the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

While over 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 200,000 and 400,000 hospitalizations occurred in the 2009 H1N1 flu season.

“The survey results are encouraging,” Dr. Wava Truscott, director of medical services and education for Kimberly-Clark Health Care, said. “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.”

The survey also found that 73 percent of nurses expect the upcoming flu season to be somewhat severe, 92 percent plan to get the flu vaccine themselves and only 40 percent of the nurses believe the public is well-informed on the issue of healthcare-associated infections.