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Many Nurses Not Trained for Potential Bioterrorist Attack

Perioperative nurses can improve preparation for potential bioterrorism diseases with brief self-study

MONDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Many perioperative nurses may feel unprepared for the challenges of a bioterrorism event, but a relatively brief self-study guide can help improve their sense of preparedness, according to research published in the May AORN Journal.

Janet Roberta Thomas, RN, of Ansell Healthcare in Red Bank, N.J., discusses the results of a survey administered to 290 participants at the 2005 AORN Congress. A number of surveys since Sept. 11, 2001 found shortcomings in disaster preparedness at hospitals around the nation, including a low number conducting drills for biological terrorist attacks, according to the author.

In the author's survey, only 41 percent reported that their facilities offered bioterrorism training. Nurses who had received no training on bioterrorism preparedness had a self-perceived level of preparedness of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 for a disaster involving anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia or viral hemorrhagic fevers, and nurses who had received education at their facilities reported a rating of 4.8. After reading a 28-page self-study module, the ratings rose to 6.5 and 7.3, respectively.

"It is important…for every perioperative nurse to be knowledgeable, prepared, and included in every hospital disaster plan and drill," the author writes. "Even relatively brief training in the form of a self-study module on bioterrorism preparedness can increase the knowledge and confidence level of the perioperative nurse in responding to a bioterrorist event."

Ansell Healthcare provided funding for the study.

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