H1N1 prevalent among hospital ER workers

NEW YORK, (UPI) – U.S. medical researchers say the nation’s hospital emergency department workers suffered from H1N1 influenza more than any other healthcare professionals.

The study, led by Cynthia Santos of Weill Cornell Medical School, found that during last year’s H1N1 flu pandemic, nearly half of the reported cases involving hospital healthcare workers occurred in emergency medicine, pediatrics, ambulatory care and anesthesiology, with emergency medicine workers having the highest infection rate.

The peak of the H1N1 pandemic in healthcare personnel lagged slightly behind the peak of the pandemic in the community, except in the emergency department where the peak closely corresponded to the community, Santos said.

Infomation on employees from five hospitals prior to vaccination was analyzed during the spring 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The scientists said a total of 123 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 were found, of which 49 percent occurred in hospital emergency departments that together comprised 19 percent of the total healthcare workers.

The research appears in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.