In December 2007, the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine established a Task Force to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for operating intensive care units (ICU) during an influenza epidemic or mass disaster.
To provide direction for health care professionals in the preparation and management of emergency ICU situations during an influenza epidemic or mass disaster, standardize activities, and promote coordination and communication among the medical teams.
Based on a literature review and contributions of content experts, a list of essential categories for managing emergency situations in the ICU were identified. Based on three cycles of a modified Delphi process, consensus was achieved regarding the categories. A primary author along with an expert group drafted SOPs for each category.
Based on the Delphi cycles, the following key topics were found to be important for emergency preparedness: triage, infrastructure, essential equipment, manpower, protection of staff and patients, medical procedures, hospital policy, coordination and collaboration with interface units, registration and reporting, administrative policies and education.
The draft SOPs serve as benchmarks for emergency preparedness and response of ICUs to emergencies or outbreak of pandemics.