Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 13 Flu Update

CIDRAP on a critical care panel discussing how to handle scarce medical resources during a surge.

More on endemic bird flu in South Korea.

Farmers are being "sensitized" to bird flu in Sierra Leone.

This report says Yemen is stopping Saudi poultry imports, but I am not aware of any recent outbreaks there. Perhaps this is a "ghost" story.


At 6:45 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


The CIDRAP article you posted is quite an excellent summary of the major medical, equipment, hospital facility and ethical health “rationing” issues associated with planning for a pandemic or any other significant health emergency. The staff writers did a superlative job. The one major problem though, is the usual - money. It all comes down to the necessary funds to buy and stockpile the necessary excess surge capacity EMCC equipment and medical supplies, ICU expansions, space for more critical care beds, and ventilators – that would be required during a severe and protracted influenza pandemic. I can easily imagine the number exceeding five to ten billion dollars, just for starters. Of course, compared to the amount the US is wasting on the ridiculous war in Iraq every 2.5 days (1 billion dollars), this would only amount to “chump change”. Heck, the government is going to end up spending a couple of hundred times that amount just bailing out the idiot over-leveraged mortgage companies, investment banks, and nincompoop home speculators, alone.

I do have some fundamental questions after examining the article carefully though, such as… in the grand scheme of things, how are the hospitals, physicians, and nurses going to eat while all the chaos is going on and they are in a probable lock-down or controlled quarantine situation ? (maybe they plan on ordering out from McDonalds, Wendy’s, or the local Pizza Hut, I guess – good luck). Also, exactly what are the responsibilities and commitments of the DHS and FEMA - do they play a role in the overall planning or not ? It sure would be nice if we knew how THEIR plans are bolted into the suggested hospital and state health emergency pandemic plans.

Another simple question is this: what about the significant mortuary arrangements that might be necessary ? Like the food question, are the hospital administrators simply banking on calling the local undertakers to come and magically perform drive-by pickups if things go way south on us ?

My final basic question involves the families of the physicians and health care workers: how are they taken care of, if at all ? Or are they to be considered “non-essential” or just collateral damage like the rest of us little people ?

And as far as the discussion on “liability issues for the states that could protect caregivers and health systems when disasters reduce normal levels of care” (?): that’s a tough one for most of us simple average working people to comprehend, especially if a national health state-of-emergency is declared by the President or Congress. It really begs another question: if we can’t ever get beyond the threat of personal injury lawyers or class action law suits (now), how could we ever proceed in the inoculation of our entire population with a matched H5N1 vaccine during a real pandemic ? Maybe the “fear factor” will take care of everything.



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