Influenza Pandemic: Preparing for the Unpredictable


How much should you prepare for a crisis that may not happen?

Fam Pract Manag. 2006 Jan;13(1):14.

Most family physicians today have time and energy to give only to the most immediate concerns or crises. Consequently, most articles in Family Practice Management deal with issues that are of immediate concern to some or all of our readers. The more widespread the concern, the more articles we provide. Just think of how many family physicians worry about coding, and then look at all the coding content in FPM. Another example: This issue’s cover article addresses what is certainly an immediate concern of many patients – one which they may well want to consult you about: Medicare Part D. You’re hardly in a position to advise all your Medicare patients about the best plans for them, but you can point them to the right resources, and that’s what the article by Holly Biola, MD, helps with.

This issue contains at least one article that is a flat exception to the rule, however. No matter how much you read about bird flu in the lay press, it’s hard to think of an avian flu pandemic as an immediate concern. God willing, it will never happen or, if it does, it won’t be as deadly as the direst predictions suggest. But the occurrence of a pandemic is unpredictable, so it’s difficult to say just how pressing the concern is. With this in mind, we consider it important for FPM to publish “Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Vaccine Prioritization,” by Jonathan L. Temte, MD, PhD. By the time a pandemic rises to the level of immediate concern, you may not have any time left to prepare for it.

If you’re entirely absorbed in fighting the fires of the moment, I hope you’ll file the article for future reference. If you can spare a moment from your fire fighting, at least skim the article to familiarize yourself with the tools it has to offer, including the forms available as part of the online version. And if you can make the time to use the article’s tools to estimate your practice’s vaccine needs in the event of a pandemic, you may someday have reason to be very glad you did.

We’ll also keep the article in mind and draw your attention to it again should a pandemic appear to be brewing; in fact, we will add this to the assemblage of resources that the AAFP is putting together to help family physicians should the need arise. The best time to prepare for such an unpredictable crisis, however, is now.

Robert Edsall, Editor-in-Chief


Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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