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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2010 Jul-Aug;25(4):296-301.

H1N1: communication patterns among emergency department staff during the H1N1 outbreak, April 2009.

Author information

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 11219, USA. kklein@maimonidesmed.org



The H1N1 influenza virus has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the media as a disease that could rival the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic in deaths. During the spring of 2009, emergency departments across the world saw a spike in the number of influenza cases and by June 2009, the WHO had declared H1N1 a pandemic. In order to prevent emergency department staff from becoming ill and to provide up-to-date medical care to patients, information had to be disseminated quickly to emergency department staff.


An anonymous Internet survey was utilized to query emergency department staff regarding communication methods and overall attitudes regarding safety and treatment during the spring of 2009.


The majority of emergency department staff (263; 88.3%) used multiple sources to obtain information about the H1N1 virus. There were 258 respondents (88.9%) that felt that the hospital was supplying them with the necessary information to protect themselves and their families and 280 (98.5%) felt confident that their emergency department was treating patients by the government-recommended guidelines. Statistically significant differences were noted in communication patterns between direct and indirect patient care providers.


In general, H1N1 communication to emergency department staff was perceived as good during the initial H1N1 outbreak. However, because of the limitations associated with an online survey, these results do not allow for generalization to the total emergency department staff population. Hospital administrators may need to consider the differences in communication preferences of direct patient care providers and indirect patient care providers when distributing important information to emergency department staff during crisis and emergency situations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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