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An Intervention to Improve Compliance with Transmission Precautions for Influenza in the Emergency Department: Successes and Challenges



Concern with the potential for hospital-based transmission of influenza has come to the forefront due to emergency department (ED) crowding and the novel H1N1 pandemic. Compliance with infection control guidelines for influenza in the ED is generally unknown, and effective yet low-resource training is needed to educate staff on the importance of decreasing the potential for ED transmission of the virus.


This study evaluates compliance with patient assignment and transport precautions for influenza in an urban ED before and after implementation of electronic reminders.


We included patients with a diagnosis of influenza for two consecutive influenza seasons, and retrospectively collected limited patient encounter data on patient location, transport, and compliance with assignment and transport precautions for both years. For the second influenza season we sent monthly reminders to all ED providers via the electronic medical record (EMR), explaining the importance and proper use of infection control precautions in patients with suspected influenza. Compliance between the two seasons was compared using descriptive statistics and chi-squared analysis.


Overall compliance with infection control precautions was poor, but increased with the use of electronic reminders from 29% to 45% (p = 0.015). Compliance with precautions for patients moved to the hallway or Radiology increased from 7% to 24% (p = 0.001).


The EMR may be a useful tool for improving compliance with transmission-based precautions by implementing reminders on order sets and informational mailings, and by tracking compliance. Future study should be undertaken to determine the most effective interventions to prevent ED transmission of influenza.

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