, Volume 32, Issue 7, pp 1004-1013
Date: 29 Mar 2006

Expanding ICU facilities in an epidemic: recommendations based on experience from the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong and Singapore

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Epidemics have the potential to severely strain intensive care resources and may require an increase in intensive care capability. Few intensivists have direct experience of rapidly expanding intensive care services in response to an epidemic. This contribution presents the recommendations of an expert group from Hong Kong and Singapore who had direct experience of expanding intensive care services in response to the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome. These recommendations cover training, infection control, staffing, communication and ethical issues. The issue of what equipment to purchase is not addressed. Early preparations should include fit testing of negative pressure respirators, training of reserve staff, sourcing of material for physical modifications to the ICU, development of infection control policies and training programmes, and discussion of triage and quarantine issues.