Pandemic influenza requires coordinated response, says ACP

PHILADELPHIA - (April 3, 2006) "The Health Care Response to Pandemic Influenza," a new policy paper from the American College of Physicians (ACP), supports the U.S. government's national strategic response plan. It also calls for state and local leadership to address the public health threat of pandemic influenza, including avian flu.

The ACP position paper, "The Health Care Response to Pandemic Influenza," was released at ACP's Annual Session in Philadelphia.

The paper critiques the national preparedness plan for health care response involving multiple health-care providers and says that a comprehensive and effective health care response is critical to save lives, decrease illness, and avoid disruption to the economy. To achieve these goals, ACP believes that physicians in all health care settings, and particularly primary care physicians in non-hospital settings, must be fully integrated into the response plans.

The Role of the Internist

ACP recommends that internists, who as primary care physicians represent the backbone of the health care system, play a critical role in the planning and strategy for addressing pandemic influenza or other public health crisis. ACP says that internists should receive hands-on clinical training to address a public health crisis, such as pandemic influenza.

A pandemic, ACP warns, will place extraordinary and sustained demands on the U.S. health care system. All non-hospital-based health care providers (particularly internists and family practice physicians) will need to be prepared to counsel, diagnose, treat and monitor patients outside of hospital settings in order to decrease the likelihood of patient surges that would overwhelm hospital capacity. "Earlier this year ACP warned that primary care is on the verge of collapse," emphasized ACP President C. Anderson Hedberg, MD, FACP, president of ACP. "If trends continue, there will not be enough internists to care for an aging populatio

Contact: Leigh Fazzina
American College of Physicians

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