Respiratory illness contributes significantly to higher ED attendance during winter months. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) for respiratory viruses is a key investigation, with positive influenza results having both clinical and infection control implications. In response to ED colleagues requesting clear and concise guidance, we undertook a QIP to improve management of seasonal influenza.


A survey of 10 questions was sent to all Doctors and Advanced Care Practitioners (ACPs) working in the ED, and the results collated.


There were 21 survey respondents, the majority were registrars. 81% correctly identified how to request influenza testing and 95% knew the symptoms. 90% identified which risk groups should be treated, which personal protective equipment (PPE) should be donned, and suggested Oseltamavir as their treatment of choice. However only 29% of respondents knew where to find the trust guidelines and only 10% correctly prescribed prophylaxis to contacts. 95% would review a discharged case found to have influenza on testing and 67% would treat this case if they were in an at risk group.

Discussion and Conclusions

The results show that the majority of staff surveyed correctly identified the symptoms of flu, infection control precautions and those requiring treatment. However, knowledge regarding the location of guidelines, management of contacts and the use of agents other than oseltamivir was low. Based on these results we developed a single-page influenza testing algorithm aiming to improve management in A&E, and will reassess staff knowledge following the introduction of this.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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