Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 428–443

Recommendations for intensive care unit and hospital preparations for an influenza epidemic or mass disaster: summary report of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine’s Task Force for intensive care unit triage during an influenza epidemic or mass disaster

  • Charles L. Sprung
  • Janice L. Zimmerman
  • Michael D. Christian
  • Gavin M. Joynt
  • John L. Hick
  • Bruce Taylor
  • Guy A. Richards
  • Christian Sandrock
  • Robert Cohen
  • Bruria Adini
Special Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00134-010-1759-y

Cite this article as:
Sprung, C.L., Zimmerman, J.L., Christian, M.D. et al. Intensive Care Med (2010) 36: 428. doi:10.1007/s00134-010-1759-y



To provide recommendations and standard operating procedures for intensive care units and hospital preparedness for an influenza pandemic.


Based on a literature review and expert opinion, a Delphi process was used to define the essential topics.


Key recommendations include: Hospitals should increase their ICU beds to the maximal extent by expanding ICU capacity and expanding ICUs into other areas. Hospitals should have appropriate beds and monitors for these expansion areas. Establish a management system with control groups at facility, local, regional and/or national levels to exercise authority over resources. Establish a system of communication, coordination and collaboration between the ICU and key interface departments. A plan to access, coordinate and increase labor resources is required with a central inventory of all clinical and non-clinical staff. Delegate duties not within the usual scope of workers’ practice. Ensure that adequate essential medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and supplies are available. Protect patients and staff with infection control practices and supporting occupational health policies. Maintain staff confidence with reassurance plans for legal protection and assistance. Have objective, ethical, transparent triage criteria that are applied equitably and publically disclosed. ICU triage of patients should be based on the likelihood for patients to benefit most or a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Develop protocols for safe performance of high-risk procedures. Train and educate staff.


Mortality, although inevitable during a severe influenza outbreak or disaster, can be reduced by adequate preparation.


Recommendations Intensive care unit Hospital Influenza epidemic Pandemic H1N1 Mass disaster Triage 

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20.5 kb)

Copyright information

© Copyright jointly hold by Springer and ESICM 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles L. Sprung
    • 1
    • 11
  • Janice L. Zimmerman
    • 2
  • Michael D. Christian
    • 3
  • Gavin M. Joynt
    • 4
  • John L. Hick
    • 5
  • Bruce Taylor
    • 6
  • Guy A. Richards
    • 7
  • Christian Sandrock
    • 8
  • Robert Cohen
    • 9
  • Bruria Adini
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicineHadassah Hebrew University Medical CenterJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Critical Care Division, Department of Medicine, The Methodist HospitalWeill Cornell Medical CollegeHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Critical CareMount Sinai Hospital & University Health Network, University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Prince of Wales HospitalThe Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales HospitalHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Department of Emergency MedicineHennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  6. 6.Department of Critical CarePortsmouth Hospitals NHS TrustPortsmouthUK
  7. 7.Department of Intensive Care, Johannesburg HospitalUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  8. 8.Intensive Care Unit, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Infectious DiseasesUC Davis School of MedicineSacramentoUSA
  9. 9.Emergency Medical ServicesIsraeli Ministry of Health, Hebrew University Faculty of MedicineTel Aviv, JerusalemIsrael
  10. 10.Emergency Medical ServicesIsraeli Ministry of Health, Ben-Gurion University of the NegevTel Aviv, Beer ShevaIsrael
  11. 11.General Intensive Care UnitHadassah Hebrew University Medical CenterJerusalemIsrael

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