ICU Resource Limitations during Peak Seasonal Influenza: Results of a 2018 National Feasibility Study

Christianne Joy Lane, Manas Bhatnagar, Karen Lutrick, Ryan C. Maves, Debra Weiner, Daisy Rios Olvera, Timothy M. Uyeki, J. Perren Cobb, Joan C. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Demonstrate the feasibility of weekly data collection and analysis of public health emergency (PHE) data. Assess fluctuations in, and challenges of, resource matching and potential effect on patient care for influenza in ICUs. DESIGN: Multicenter prospective noninterventional study testing effectiveness of leveraging the Discovery Critical Care Research Network Program for Resilience and Emergency Preparedness (Discovery-PREP) in performing PHE research. A 20-question internet survey was developed to prospectively assess ICU influenza-related resource stress. An informatics tool was designed to track responses; data were analyzed within 24 hours of weekly survey completion by the team biostatistician for timely reporting. PARTICIPANTS: Critical care and Emergency Medicine Discovery-PREP network investigators self-selected to participate in the voluntary query. SETTING: ICUs of 13 hospitals throughout the United States, 12 academic, and one community. INTERVENTIONS: ICU physicians were electronically surveyed weekly over 17 weeks during the influenza season (January 2018-April 2018). Responses were collected for 48 hours after each email query. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The average weekly response among the sites was 79% (range, 65-100%). Significant stress, defined as alterations in ICU staffing and/or resource allocation, occurred in up to 41% of sites during the national peak of influenza activity. These alterations included changes in staffing, not accepting external patient transfers, and canceling elective surgery. During this same period, up to 17% of the sites indicated that these changes might not have been sufficient to prevent potentially avoidable patient harm. CONCLUSIONS: This novel approach to querying ICU operational stress indicated that almost half of participating sites experienced critical care resource limitations during peak influenza season and required process and/or staffing changes to better balance resources with patient care demands. This weekly national reporting infrastructure could be adapted and expanded to better inform providers, hospital emergency management teams, and government leaders during PHEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E0606
JournalCritical Care Explorations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2022


  • emergency department
  • epidemiology
  • infectious disease
  • influenza
  • intensive care unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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