Navigation Links
Health Departments Slow to Respond to Disease Outbreaks

Researchers posing as doctors often waited hours after calling emergency hotlines

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors or nurses reporting a potentially dangerous infectious disease outbreak may find themselves on hold with their local health department for an hour or more, a new phone survey finds.

That hold time applies only when someone actually picks up -- researchers could not get through on at least one call testing the disease-reporting hotline of two out of five health departments.

Only one in three local health departments connected the researchers -- who portrayed themselves as medical professionals reporting a possible disease outbreak -- with a trained public health professional within 30 minutes.

A timely response is necessary in the event of a disease outbreak, said the team from the Rand Corporation, an independent health policy research program. At the time the research was done, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that a trained public health professional be available to take the confidential details of any outbreak in less than 30 minutes from the time the phone is answered.

For the study, conducted between May and October 2006, the research team placed five to 10 unannounced tests on the telephone-based disease-reporting systems of a representative sample of 74 local health departments nationally. They placed a total of 596 calls posing as a local doctor or nurse seeking to report an urgent, confidential infectious disease case to a trained public health professional.

When the callers reached the public professional, they said the call was just a test, and no further action was needed.

The callers were on hold an average of 63 minutes before they were able to talk to a trained professional, according to the study, published in the February edition of the American Journal of Public Health. The callers were unable to get through at least once to 40 percent of the health departments. However, 31 percent of the departments connected the callers to a trained health professional in under half an hour.

In one case, the researchers in the survey reported waiting more than 16 hours and 43 minutes to speak to a trained health professional.

"These are complex systems, and there are a number of places where the system can break down," David J. Dausey, lead author of the report and an associate policy researcher at Rand, said in a prepared statement. "If you have a single individual responsible for ensuring the call gets evaluated properly, it appears to be more effective than an electronic system where you have to 'press one' to reach this person or 'press two' to leave a message. If someone is out of the office that day, for example, it could lead to problems."

The researchers argued that appropriate training and a standard protocol are both necessary for people responding to phone calls reporting infectious disease outbreak.

Dausey noted that since the study was conducted, the CDC has shortened its guidelines for reaching a trained public health professional from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

More information

To learn more about infectious disease reporting, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Madeline Vann

SOURCE: Rand Corporation, news release, Jan. 2, 2008

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Penn study finds pro-death proteins required to regulate healthy immune function
2. UCLA researchers identify markers that may predict diabetes in still-healthy people
3. Air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk indices in healthy young adults
4. More proof needed of safety and quality of electronic personal health records
5. Health care incentive model offers collaborative approach
6. Loneliness is bad for your health
7. Mailman School of Public Health study examines link between racial discrimination and substance use
8. Green Tea May Brew Up Healthier Skin
9. For Health Info, Women Often Turn to the Web
10. Record Number of Americans Lack Health Insurance
11. U.S. Research Funding Continues to Flatten as U.S. Health Costs Climb - in August 31 Science
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Health Departments Slow to Respond to Disease Outbreaks
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... “While riding the bus, I ... Bronx, N.Y. “I thought there had to be a convenient and comfortable way to ... The PROTECTOR enables disabled individuals to safely travel during cold or inclement weather. In ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... (PHA) announces the nation’s Periwinkle Pioneers, individuals and groups responsible for advancing care ... disease. The Periwinkle Pioneers, nominated by the public, will receive special recognition throughout ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... philanthropic seniors, is resulting in a way for homeless people to have a ... have launched a new initiative whereby they are repurposing plastic bags into sleeping ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Since its launch in 2012, ... adult stem cell therapies to patients with chronic degenerative medical conditions. Now, the ... Registered Trademark (RTM). , Organizations are required to hold a registered trademark in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Genesis Chiropractic Software ... software creates an agreement between the practice owner and the patient that automatically ... notification, and projections. Click here to learn more. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... FRANCISCO , Nov. 24, 2015  Thanks to ... Dignity Health St. Mary,s Medical Center,s Sister Diane Grassilli ... breast imaging capabilities in San Francisco ... an anonymous friend, stepped forward with a gift of ... for Breast Digital Mammography with Tomosynthesis and Whole Breast ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Colo. , Nov. 24, 2015  Array ... that its Chief Executive Officer, Ron Squarer ... Healthcare Conference in New York.  The public is ... webcast on the Array BioPharma website.Event:Piper Jaffray Annual ... , Wednesday, December 2, 2015Time:1:30 p.m. Eastern Time ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... HOUSTON, TX and VANCOUVER, Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... EPI; NASDAQ: EPIX ) announced today that the ... clinical study of EPI-506 as a treatment for metastatic ... States and Canada.  --> ... --> In the Phase 1/2 clinical trial, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: