HealthcarePapers 8(1) October 2007 : 34-37.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2007.19356

Can an Expanded and Integrated Occupational Health Service Help Buffer the Impact of a Global Influenza Outbreak in Healthcare Organizations?

Michael S. Kerr


At first glance, the accompanying article by Silas et al. makes for a somewhat-curious read. The picture they paint of the possible risk of a global pandemic posed by the avian influenza virus H5N1 is indeed a chilling one, not only for the possible extent of the epidemic itself but also because of the likely burden it could place on an already thinly stretched healthcare workforce. It therefore raises a rather alarming contradiction. Given our recent experience of living through the consequences of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Ontario and BC, one would think that we would be more than willing this time around to err on the side of caution and be as prepared as possible to deal with the next emerging infectious agent that comes our way. But, surprisingly, as is carefully outlined in Silas et al.'s paper, this does not seem to be the case. In a healthcare environment that is increasingly focused on the need for evidence upon which to base change in practice, are we possibly dragging our heels in raising our preparedness for a future pandemic? It is an interesting debate, and one that certainly merits further examination.



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