AHRQ addresses home role during flu pandemic

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced a publication to help home health agencies prepare for their role in a flu pandemic. "Home Health Care During an Influenza Pandemic: Issues and Resources" identifies the types of patients that will rely on home health agencies for care and provides tools and resources that can help agencies prepare.

The report points out that home health personnel will be called upon to provide care for two main groups of patients:

• medical and surgical patients not hospitalized because of the pandemic who are well enough to be discharged early from hospitals to free up hospital beds for more severely ill patients;

• patients who become or already are dependent on home health care services (predominantly elderly persons with chronic disease) and will continue to need in-home care during the influenza pandemic whether they become infected. Elderly patients who become infected with influenza often might need to be admitted to hospitals, because their age and pre-existing conditions could make their influenza infection especially severe.

Other issues addressed in the report include monitoring and reporting during a flu pandemic, work force concerns, communications, and reimbursement. To see a copy of the report go to www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/healthcare/homehealth.html.