Flu Outbreak Raises Questions About America’s Healthcare Preparedness
This year’s flu outbreak is putting the spotlight on U.S. hospitals and America’s healthcare preparedness, and what we’re seeing isn’t good. I’m sure this won’t come as any surprise to most of you, but American hospitals are woefully unprepared to deal with a widespread medical event.
The scenario described in the article below is playing out in many major cities across the country.
Imagine if a more deadly strain of flu was hitting the U.S., where would we be then?
The nation’s preparedness to handle a major flu outbreak or disaster is now being called into question.
“The hospitals are full. There is flu everywhere,” said Beth Gatlin, the Director of Emergency Preparedness at the Center for Health Affairs.
She says the spike in illness is putting a strain on hospitals.
America’s reliance on foreign countries to supply drugs and medical devices makes us even more vulnerable. There simply isn’t always the necessary amount of medication available when it’s needed. Most of this is out of necessity rather than just a lack of understanding on the part of the medical community, but it doesn’t make it any less important.
“You can run short, very quickly, of those critical products and services that are required to provide the patient care,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
That’s because most of the drugs and medical devices used in emergency rooms come from countries overseas with virtually no stockpiles here in the U.S.
“We’ve really set ourselves up for a very, very serious situation,” said Osterholm. “I’m afraid that this could be the worst mistake here with the flu.”
Osterholm points to Puerto Rico as a perfect example of what can happen when a natural disaster or health pandemic shuts down production of life-saving products.
How Does the Flu Kill?
Most flu-related deaths come from the complications caused by the flu and not the flu itself. Bacterial infections and bacterial pneumonia are most common.
Lung damage caused by the flu makes it easier for bacteria cause these infections.
Sepsis is another complication that can lead to death.
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