Capacity and Adaptations of General Practice during an Influenza Pandemic
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Capacity and Adaptations of General Practice during an Influenza Pandemic

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  • Alternative Title:
    PLoS One
  • Description:
    Background GPs play a major role in influenza epidemics, and most patients with influenza-like-illness (ILI) are treated in general practice or by primary care doctors on duty in out-of-hours services (OOH). Little is known about the surge capacity in primary care services during an influenza pandemic, and how the relationship between them changes. Aim To investigate how general practice and OOH services were used by patients during the 2009 pandemic in Norway and the impact of the pandemic on primary care services in comparison to a normal influenza season. Materials Data from electronic remuneration claims from all OOH doctors and regular GPs for 2009. Methods We conducted a registry-based study of all ILI consultations in the 2009 pandemic with the 2008/09 influenza season (normal season) as baseline for comparison. Results The majority (82.2%) of ILI consultations during the 2009 pandemic took place in general practice. The corresponding number in the 2008/09 season was 89.3%. Compared with general practice, the adjusted odds ratio for ILI with all other diagnoses as reference in OOH services was 1.23 (95% CI, 1.18, 1.27) for the 2008/2009 season and 1.87 (95% CI, 1.84, 1.91) for the pandemic influenza season. In total there was a 3.3-fold increase in ILI consultations during the pandemic compared to the 2008/09 season. A 5.5-fold increase of ILI consultations were observed in OOH services in comparison to the 2008/09 season. Children and young adults with ILI were the most frequent users of OOH services during influenza periods. Conclusions The autumn pandemic wave resulted in a significantly increased demand on primary care services. However, GPs in primary care services in Norway showed the ability to increase capacity in a situation with increased patient demand.
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