Institutional policies and readiness in management of critical illness among patients with viral hemorrhagic fever
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Objective: In response to the 2013-2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak, the US government designated certain healthcare institutions as Ebola treatment centers (ETCs) to better prepare for future emerging infectious disease outbreaks. This study investigated ETC experiences and critical care policies for patients with viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF).
Design: A 58-item questionnaire elicited information on policies for 9 critical care interventions, factors that limited care provision, and innovations developed to deliver care.
Setting and participants: The questionnaire was sent to 82 ETCs.
Methods: We analyzed ordinal and categorical data pertaining to the ETC characteristics and descriptive data about their policies and perceived challenges. Statistical analyses assessed whether ETCs with experience caring for VHF patients were more likely to have critical care policies than those that did not.
Results: Of the 27 ETCs who responded, 17 (63%) were included. Among them, 8 (47%) reported experience caring for persons under investigation or confirmed cases of VHF. Most felt ready to provide intubation, chest compressions, and renal replacement therapy to these patients. The factors most cited for limiting care were staff safety and clinical futility. Innovations developed to better provide care included increased simulation training and alternative technologies for procedures and communication.
Conclusions: There were broad similarities in critical care policies and limitations among institutions. There were several interventions, namely ECMO and cricothyrotomy, which few institutions felt ready to provide. Future studies could identify obstacles to providing these interventions and explore policy changes after increased experience with novel infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.