Public Health and Primary CareORIGINAL ARTICLE

Seasonal and Avian Influenza Knowledge Base of Attending Physicians in a Community-Based Hospital: A Survey-Based Study

Kevin M. Boehm, DO, MSc
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: July 1, 2009

Accepted: November 4, 2009

Published: May 1, 2010

J Osteopath Med; 110(5): 285-289

Context: Influenza remains a serious threat and is the most frequent cause of death from a vaccine-preventable disease. Physicians’ understanding of influenza and its management and prevention can potentially reduce the spread of disease in the community.

Objectives: To ascertain physicians’ knowledge of the prevention, identification, and treatment of seasonal and avian influenza.

Methods: A 14-question survey regarding seasonal and avian influenza was distributed to emergency physicians at a medical staff meeting in 2005.

Results: The survey was given to 360 physicians, of whom 54 (15%) submitted completed surveys. Of the 51 physicians (94%) in favor of vaccines, only 32 (59%) received the influenza vaccine and only 21 (39%) always received the yearly vaccine. Eight physicians (15%) washed their hands before seeing patients, 18 (33%) washed their hands after seeing patients, 21 (39%) washed their hands before and after seeing patients, and 7 (13%) stated they only wash their hands sometimes. Seven (13%) always “alcohol” their stethoscope between patients; 28 (52%) responded “sometimes;” and 4 (7%), “never.” When taking patient histories, 31 (58%) stated that they always or sometimes ask about travel history; 15 (28%) stated that they never ask about travel history. Thirty-six respondents (67%) would take oseltamivir phosphate if they had avian influenza.

Conclusions: This survey-based study reveals that physicians may lack information in the domains of influenza prevention, identification, and management. Emergency physicians must take the lead in the hospital to ensure that we as a profession are aware of emerging pathogens, how to recognize those pathogens and treat infected patients, and how to protect ourselves.

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