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Winter Flu May Push Pediatric Intensive Care to Limit

Bed spaces in the United Kingdom may not be enough to cope with expected surge in demand

MONDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Demand for pediatric intensive care unit beds in the United Kingdom is likely to exceed demand during the anticipated flu pandemic this winter, according to a study in the December issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Ari Ercole, Ph.D., of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, U.K., and colleagues used a model developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze age-stratified data for the United Kingdom and conservative estimates of demand for beds in pediatric intensive care units in order to assess whether availability is likely to meet demand during the forthcoming winter flu season.

Based on an attack rate of 30 percent, a pandemic lasting 12 weeks and a minimum stay of five days in intensive care, at the peak of the anticipated flu pandemic, overall demand is expected to meet or exceed existing total supply, the data suggests. Because there are geographical variations in terms of adequacy of provision, some areas are predicted to run short of bed spaces, the researchers found.

"Even if the United Kingdom is homogenously affected by the pandemic, these regional differences in service availability will mean pediatric retrieval and inter-hospital transfer are likely to be limiting resources in a major pandemic," the authors write. "Alternatively, and if pediatric intensive care unit capacity cannot be expanded locally, it may become necessary to utilize beds on general intensive care units."

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