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:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, 2016, ... the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, where ... city’s history as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal and ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Many women ... diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not only alleviate ... that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. The ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn ... specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand ... all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, ... at Work award to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health ... annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Marne, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... awareness about the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, ... for individuals who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research and ... Devices Medical Market Analysis 2016 - Forecast to 2022" ... The report contains up to date financial data derived ... Assessment of major trends with potential impact on the market ... of market segmentation which comprises of sub markets, regional and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Bracket , a leading clinical trial technology ... outcomes platform, Bracket eCOA (SM) 6.0, at the 52 ... 30, 2016 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.  A ... product of its kind to fully integrate with RTSM, will ... 6.0 is a flexible platform for electronic clinical outcomes assessments ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia (AFC), a new affiliate ... in Latin America . ... ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: