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Locatelli SM, Lavela SL, Hogan TP, Goldstein B. Influenza infection control guidance provided to staff at Veterans Affairs facilities for veterans with spinal cord injury during a pandemic( ). The journal of spinal cord medicine. 2013 Nov 1; 36(6):666-71.
CONTEXT/OBJECTIVE: To assess guidance provided to staff at Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare facilities on H1N1 influenza infection control for veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional qualitative semi-structured interviews. SETTING: Thirty-three VA healthcare facilities from throughout the United States that provide care to veterans with SCI/D. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-three infection control key informants, each representing a VA healthcare facility. INTERVENTIONS: None. OUTCOME MEASURES: Infection control practices, including vaccination practices, hospital preparedness, and recommendations for future pandemics, both in general and specifically to SCI/D. RESULTS: Most (n = 26, 78.8%) infection control key informants believed veterans with SCI/D were at increased risk for influenza and complications, but only 17 (51.5%) said veterans with SCI/D were treated as a priority group for vaccination at their facilities. There was little special guidance provided for treating veterans with SCI/D, and most (n = 28, 84.8%) informants said that infection control procedures and recommendations were applied universally. Yet, 10 key informants discussed 'unique challenges' to infection control in the SCI/D population. Informants discussed the potential for infectious agents to be spread through shared and common use equipment and the necessity of including caregivers in any vaccination or educational campaigns. CONCLUSION: Greater input by experts knowledgeable about SCI/D is recommended to adequately address pandemic influenza within healthcare facilities where individuals with SCI/D receive care.