The AMA just took over a journal called Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. In fact they proudly announced they were the exclusive publisher and distributor of the journal, formerly published by Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins. I wouldn’t even know about it except it was in connection with a press release of an article likely to be of interest any health care worker: “:Which Health Care Workers Were Most Affected During the Spring 2009 H1N1 Pandemic?” by Santos, Bristow and Vorenkamp of Weill-Cornell Medical School in New York. And the AMA even said it was redesigning the website to improve the journal’s visibility and engagement by publishing important studies that can help emergency response health care professionals. Oh, and one more thing.It’s behind a subscription firewall! If the article is so important and journal visibility so crucial, then why not make it available for free, the way many subscription journals are now doing for articles of public health importance? You would think that an article about risks to emergency response health care professionals would be made available as a public health service. It would even be good for the journal, bringing it to the attention of a lot of people (lke ourselves) who never heard of it before. They don’t have to go entirely Open Access to do this. They can do it selectively when the situation warrants it. Anyway, I don’t have access so all I can tell you is what is in the abstract.
The study took place in five hospitals during the first wave of the 2009 pandemic (spring), before any vaccine was available. Santos et al. looked at lab confirmed diagnoses and employee sick hours records for various departments:
Records of 123 confirmed reports of laboratory-confirmed influenza A or novel H1N1 infections in hospital employees were also analyzed. Two thirds of the H1N1 cases occurred during June (infection rates in parentheses): 34 in physicians and medical personnel (6.7%), 36 in nurses and clinical technicians (2.2%), 39 in Administrative & Support Personnel (infection rate = 1.2%), 3 in Social Workers & Counselors (infection rate = 1.0%), 8 in Housekeeping & Food Services (infection rate = 2.7%), and 3 in Security & Transportation (infection rate=3.9%). When analyzed according to department, the adult emergency department (infection rate = 28.8%) and the pediatric emergency department (infection rate = 25.0%) had the highest infection rates per department. (Santos et al.,Which Health Care Workers Were Most Affected During the Spring 2009 H1N1 Pandemic?, Disaster Medicine And Public Health Preparedness, 2010 4: 47-54; abstract)
No surprises but nothing comforting if you work in the ER, either. Half of the cases were in departments that had only 20% of the employees. Their risk was more than double that of other hospital workers, clearly a direct matter of exposure and not from just being another member of a general population experiencing a flu pandemic. Whatever precautions they were taking to protect themselves, they weren’t working very well. Maybe interesting and useful information like that is actually in the article.
I don’t know. I couldn’t read it because I don’t subscribe to this journal I never heard of. AAARRRGGGHHHH!