Bites

November 2009

Clinical

Pandemic preparedness

Risk management and infection control for all respiratory infection outbreaks

Volume 38, No.11, November 2009 Pages 891-895

Annapurna Nori

Mary-Anne Williams

Background

There has been substantial effort and activity in regards to pandemic planning, preparedness and response, mainly in the realm of public health. However, general practitioners and other primary care providers are important players in the health response to a pandemic.

Objective/s

To discuss the importance of general practice preparedness for managing respiratory infection outbreaks and to provide a model for the general practice response.

Discussion

Pandemic planning and preparedness in general practice is ultimately a crucial risk management exercise, the cornerstone of which is sound infection control. As planning will be significantly aided by, and should extend to, other respiratory outbreaks, we propose a framework for managing outbreaks of respiratory infections with a focus on planned, practised and habitual infection control measures, and a stepwise response according to the extent and severity of the outbreak.

Pandemic influenza (PI ) planning has been a priority for Australian health authorities since the 2003 SARS epidemic and subsequent overseas outbreaks of avian influenza. While this has been mainly in the realm of public health, South Australian PI planning has specifically engaged with general practitioners, recognising their significant role in the primary care response to a pandemic.1,2 However, GPs have considerations beyond simply being part of a public health response to a serious outbreak.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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Clinical