Is Your Pharmacy Department Ready for an Influenza Pandemic?

Preparing for an influenza pandemic is a major challenge for hospitals and health systems across the United States, and departments of pharmacy play a critical role in the institutional planning and response for such a crisis. The ASHP Foundation has developed the Pandemic Influenza Assessment Tool for Health-System Pharmacy Departments, with support from Roche, to help pharmacists demonstrate organizational leadership and meet this challenge.

“It’s important for hospitals to have good plans developed on pandemic flu preparation, and given the nature of this particular type of event, it’s very important to have pharmacy leaders involved,” says Kathleen Parrinello, Ph.D., R.N., Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. Parrinello served on the expert panel convened by the ASHP Foundation to decide on the content that should be in the tool. “Any time multiple institutions need to prepare for a similar event, it makes sense to try to identify what the best practice is for that preparation. I also think that emergency preparedness activities – planning for the unexpected – often get pushed to the back burner, given the pressures of the day-to-day operations in a hospital. 
“For that reason, the Pandemic Influenza Assessment Tool is valuable because it serves as the impetus for developing the plan and creates a format for planning.  Additionally, the tool will provide links to key Internet resources to go to for more information about pandemic influenza preparation and what is being done at the Federal and state levels. Because pandemic flu preparation is being considered at the Federal and state levels, it is important that there be some standardization as to the hospital’s role as well.”

This Web-based tool, which is easy to use and free of charge, will help pharmacists evaluate how prepared their departments of pharmacy are to handle an influenza pandemic and then identify areas for possible improvement in their planning. Users can access the tool on the ASHP Foundation’s Web site and complete a series of assessment questions, which cover the following areas:

• Integration with institutional planning
• Departmental leadership
• Public and professional education and training
• Medications and supplies
• Staffing
• Public affairs and communications.

After completing the assessment, the tool will generate a report that identifies the areas that require additional attention. The report will also guide the user to online resources provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and more.

“Emergency preparedness across a wide spectrum of catastrophic events is increasingly important for hospitals, and this particular type of event is one that is quite natural for pharmacy leaders to play a key planning role,” says Parrinello. “It makes a lot of sense to me that the ASHP Foundation has taken this project on, and I believe that the tool will be valuable to not only ASHP members but also to the organizations in which they work.”

To access the Pandemic Influenza Assessment Tool, click here.

Read more -- return to Impact, Fall 2008.