Currently submitted to: JMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Date Submitted: May 6, 2019
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Impact of influenza on hospital care in the Netherlands in 2017/2018: a retrospective study based on media reports
There is a lack of real-time nationally representative data on severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in the Netherlands.
This study assessed whether media reports provide relevant and timely information for the estimation of trends and impact of influenza in hospitals.
Dutch news articles on influenza in hospitals during the influenza season (week 40 2017 until week 20 2018) were searched in an online media monitoring program (Coosto). Trends in number of weekly articles were compared to trends in five different influenza surveillance systems. A content analysis was performed on a selection of news articles and information on the hospital, department, problem and preventive/response measures were collected.
The trend in weekly news articles correlated significantly with the trends in all five surveillance systems. However, the peak in all five surveillance systems preceded the peak in news articles by 5 weeks. Content analysis showed hospitals (n=69) had major capacity problems (n=46, 67%) resulting in admission stops (n=9, 20%), postponement of non-urgent surgical procedures (n=29, 63%) or both (n=8, 17%). Only few hospitals reported the use of point-of-care testing (n=5, 7%) or a separate influenza ward (n=3, 4%) to accelerate clinical management, but most resorted to ad-hoc crisis management (n=34, 49%).
Media reports showed that the 2017/2018 caused serious problems in hospitals throughout the country. However, because of the time lag in media reporting, it is not a suitable alternative for near real-time SARI surveillance. A robust SARI surveillance program is important in order to inform decision-making.