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1.  The experience of the 2003 SARS outbreak as a traumatic stress among frontline healthcare workers in Toronto: lessons learned. 
The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the first half of 2003 in Canada was unprecedented in several respects. Understanding the psychological impact of the outbreak on healthcare workers, especially those in hospitals, is important in planning for future outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases. This review draws upon qualitative and quantitative studies of the SARS outbreak in Toronto to outline the factors that contributed to healthcare workers' experiencing the outbreak as a psychological trauma. Overall, it is estimated that a high degree of distress was experienced by 29-35% of hospital workers. Three categories of contributory factors were identified. Relevant contextual factors were being a nurse, having contact with SARS patients and having children. Contributing attitudinal factors and processes were experiencing job stress, perceiving stigmatization, coping by avoiding crowds and colleagues, and feeling scrutinized. Pre-existing trait factors also contributed to vulnerability. Lessons learned from the outbreak include: (i) that effort is required to mitigate the psychological impact of infection control procedures, especially the interpersonal isolation that these procedures promote; (ii) that effective risk communication is a priority early in an outbreak; (iii) that healthcare workers may have a role in influencing patterns of media coverage that increase or decrease morale; (iv) that healthcare workers benefit from resources that facilitate reflection on the effects of extraordinary stressors; and (v) that healthcare workers benefit from practical interventions that demonstrate tangible support from institutions.
PMCID: PMC1693388  PMID: 15306398
2.  The psychological effect of severe acute respiratory syndrome on emergency department staff 
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 affected 29 countries. The SARS outbreak was unique in its rapid transmission and it resulted in heavy stress in first‐line healthcare workers, particularly in the emergency department.
: To determine the influence of SARS on the psychological status, including post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, of the staff in the emergency department.
To investigate whether different working conditions in the hospital led to different psychological effects on healthcare workers, the psychological effect on emergency department staff in the high‐risk ward was compared with that on psychiatric ward staff in the medium‐risk ward. Davidson Trauma Scale‐Chinese version (DTS‐C) and Chinese Health Questionnaire‐12 (CHQ‐12) items were designed to check the psychological status of the staff in the month after the end of the SARS outbreak.
86 of 92 (93.5%) medical staff considered the SARS outbreak to be a traumatic experience. The DTS‐C scores of staff in the emergency department and in the psychiatric ward were significantly different (p = 0.04). No significant difference in CHQ score was observed between the two groups. Emergency department staff had more severe PTSD symptoms than staff in the psychiatric ward.
SARS was a traumatic experience for healthcare providers in Taiwan. Most staff in the emergency department and in the psychiatric ward had PTSD. Emergency department staff had more severe PTSD symptoms than staff in the psychiatric ward.
PMCID: PMC2658141  PMID: 17183035
3.  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Beijing, 2003 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(1):25-31.
The largest outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) struck Beijing in spring 2003. Multiple importations of SARS to Beijing initiated transmission in several healthcare facilities. Beijing’s outbreak began March 5; by late April, daily hospital admissions for SARS exceeded 100 for several days; 2,521 cases of probable SARS occurred. Attack rates were highest in those 20–39 years of age; 1% of cases occurred in children <10 years. The case-fatality rate was highest among patients >65 years (27.7% vs. 4.8% for those 20–64 years, p < 0.001). Healthcare workers accounted for 16% of probable cases. The proportion of case-patients without known contact to a SARS patient increased significantly in May. Implementation of early detection, isolation, contact tracing, quarantine, triage of case-patients to designated SARS hospitals, and community mobilization ended the outbreak.
PMCID: PMC3092360  PMID: 15078593
severe acute respiratory syndrome; disease outbreaks; epidemiology; China; nosocomial infection; SARS virus; disease transmission
4.  Risk Factors for SARS Transmission from Patients Requiring Intubation: A Multicentre Investigation in Toronto, Canada 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10717.
In the 2003 Toronto SARS outbreak, SARS-CoV was transmitted in hospitals despite adherence to infection control procedures. Considerable controversy resulted regarding which procedures and behaviours were associated with the greatest risk of SARS-CoV transmission.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted to identify risk factors for transmission of SARS-CoV during intubation from laboratory confirmed SARS patients to HCWs involved in their care. All SARS patients requiring intubation during the Toronto outbreak were identified. All HCWs who provided care to intubated SARS patients during treatment or transportation and who entered a patient room or had direct patient contact from 24 hours before to 4 hours after intubation were eligible for this study. Data was collected on patients by chart review and on HCWs by interviewer-administered questionnaire. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) logistic regression models and classification and regression trees (CART) were used to identify risk factors for SARS transmission.
45 laboratory-confirmed intubated SARS patients were identified. Of the 697 HCWs involved in their care, 624 (90%) participated in the study. SARS-CoV was transmitted to 26 HCWs from 7 patients; 21 HCWs were infected by 3 patients. In multivariate GEE logistic regression models, presence in the room during fiberoptic intubation (OR = 2.79, p = .004) or ECG (OR = 3.52, p = .002), unprotected eye contact with secretions (OR = 7.34, p = .001), patient APACHE II score ≥20 (OR = 17.05, p = .009) and patient Pa02/Fi02 ratio ≤59 (OR = 8.65, p = .001) were associated with increased risk of transmission of SARS-CoV. In CART analyses, the four covariates which explained the greatest amount of variation in SARS-CoV transmission were covariates representing individual patients.
Close contact with the airway of severely ill patients and failure of infection control practices to prevent exposure to respiratory secretions were associated with transmission of SARS-CoV. Rates of transmission of SARS-CoV varied widely among patients.
PMCID: PMC2873403  PMID: 20502660
5.  Clinical course and management of SARS in health care workers in Toronto: a case series 
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has only recently been described. We provide individual patient data on the clinical course, treatment and complications experienced by 14 front-line health care workers and hospital support staff in Toronto who were diagnosed with SARS, and we provide follow-up information for up to 3 weeks after their discharge from hospital.
As part of the initial response to the SARS outbreak in Toronto, our health care centre was asked to establish a SARS unit for health care workers who were infected. Patients were admitted to this unit and were closely monitored and treated until they were well enough to be discharged. We prospectively compiled information on their clinical course, management and complications and followed them for 3 weeks after discharge.
The 11 women and 3 men described here (mean age 42 [standard deviation {SD} 9] years) were all involved in providing medical or ancillary hospital services to patients who were later found to have SARS. Onset of symptoms in 4 of our patients who could clearly identify only a single contact with a patient with SARS occurred on average 4 (SD 3) days after exposure. For the remaining 10 patients with multiple patient contacts, symptom onset followed exposure by a mean of 3.5 (SD 3) days after their exposure. All patients were treated with ribavirin, and all patients received levofloxacin. Many experienced major complications. Dyspnea was present in 12 patients during their stay in hospital, and all developed abnormalities on chest radiograph; 3 patients developed severe hypoxemia (PaO2 < 50 mm Hg). All patients experienced a drop in hemoglobin. Nine patients had hemolytic anemia. Three patients experienced numbness and tingling in their hands and feet, and 2 developed frank tetany. All 3 had magnesium levels that were less than 0.1 mmol/L. All patients recovered and were discharged home. At a follow-up examination 3 weeks after discharge (5 weeks after onset of illness), all patients were no longer weak but continued to become fatigued easily and had dyspnea on minimal exertion. For 5 patients, chest radiographs still showed residual disease.
SARS is a very serious illness even in healthy, relatively young people. The clinical course in our patients, all of whom met the case definition for SARS (which requires pulmonary involvement), resulted in dyspnea and, in some individuals, severe hypoxemia. Severe hemolytic anemia may be a feature of SARS or may be a complication of therapy, possibly with ribavirin.
PMCID: PMC161610  PMID: 12821618
6.  SARS Control and Psychological Effects of Quarantine, Toronto, Canada 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(7):1206-1212.
Explores effects of quarantine on those quarantined for SARS, Toronto, Canada
As a transmissible infectious disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was successfully contained globally by instituting widespread quarantine measures. Although these measures were successful in terminating the outbreak in all areas of the world, the adverse effects of quarantine have not previously been determined in a systematic manner. In this hypothesis-generating study supported by a convenience sample drawn in close temporal proximity to the period of quarantine, we examined the psychological effects of quarantine on persons in Toronto, Canada. The 129 quarantined persons who responded to a Web-based survey exhibited a high prevalence of psychological distress. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression were observed in 28.9% and 31.2% of respondents, respectively. Longer durations of quarantine were associated with an increased prevalence of PTSD symptoms. Acquaintance with or direct exposure to someone with a diagnosis of SARS was also associated with PTSD and depressive symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3323345  PMID: 15324539
SARS; quarantine; post–traumatic stress disorder; depression
7.  Curtailing transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome within a community and its hospital. 
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been transmitted extensively within hospitals, and healthcare workers (HCWs) have comprised a large proportion of SARS cases worldwide. We present a stochastic model of a SARS outbreak in a community and its hospital. For a range of basic reproductive numbers (R(0)) corresponding to conditions in different cities (but with emphasis on R(0) approximately 3 as reported for Hong Kong and Singapore), we evaluate contact precautions and case management (quarantine and isolation) as containment measures. Hospital-based contact precautions emerge as the most potent measures, with hospital-wide measures being particularly important if screening of HCWs is inadequate. For R(0) = 3, case isolation alone can control a SARS outbreak only if isolation reduces transmission by at least a factor of four and the mean symptom-onset-to-isolation time is less than 3 days. Delays of a few days in contact tracing and case identification severely degrade the utility of quarantine and isolation, particularly in high-transmission settings. Still more detrimental are delays between the onset of an outbreak and the implementation of control measures; for given control scenarios, our model identifies windows of opportunity beyond which the efficacy of containment efforts is reduced greatly. By considering pathways of transmission in our system, we show that if hospital-based transmission is not halted, measures that reduce community-HCW contact are vital to preventing a widespread epidemic. The implications of our results for future emerging pathogens are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1691475  PMID: 14561285
8.  The immediate psychological and occupational impact of the 2003 SARS outbreak in a teaching hospital 
The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto, which began on Mar. 7, 2003, resulted in extraordinary public health and infection control measures. We aimed to describe the psychological and occupational impact of this event within a large hospital in the first 4 weeks of the outbreak and the subsequent administrative and mental health response.
Two principal authors met with core team members and mental health care providers at Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, to compile retrospectively descriptions of the experiences of staff and patients based on informal observation. All authors reviewed and analyzed the descriptions in an iterative process between Apr. 3 and Apr. 13, 2003.
In a 4-week period, 19 individuals developed SARS, including 11 health care workers. The hospital's response included establishing a leadership command team and a SARS isolation unit, implementing mental health support interventions for patients and staff, overcoming problems with logistics and communication, and overcoming resistance to directives. Patients with SARS reported fear, loneliness, boredom and anger, and they worried about the effects of quarantine and contagion on family members and friends. They experienced anxiety about fever and the effects of insomnia. Staff were adversely affected by fear of contagion and of infecting family, friends and colleagues. Caring for health care workers as patients and colleagues was emotionally difficult. Uncertainty and stigmatization were prominent themes for both staff and patients.
The hospital's response required clear communication, sensitivity to individual responses to stress, collaboration between disciplines, authoritative leadership and provision of relevant support. The emotional and behavioural reactions of patients and staff are understood to be a normal, adaptive response to stress in the face of an overwhelming event.
PMCID: PMC154178  PMID: 12743065
9.  SARS in Healthcare Facilities, Toronto and Taiwan 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(5):777-781.
The healthcare setting was important in the early spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in both Toronto and Taiwan. Healthcare workers, patients, and visitors were at increased risk for infection. Nonetheless, the ability of individual SARS patients to transmit disease was quite variable. Unrecognized SARS case-patients were a primary source of transmission and early detection and intervention were important to limit spread. Strict adherence to infection control precautions was essential in containing outbreaks. In addition, grouping patients into cohorts and limiting access to SARS patients minimized exposure opportunities. Given the difficulty in implementing several of these measures, controls were frequently adapted to the acuity of SARS care and level of transmission within facilities. Although these conclusions are based only on a retrospective analysis of events, applying the experiences of Toronto and Taiwan to SARS preparedness planning efforts will likely minimize future transmission within healthcare facilities.
PMCID: PMC3323242  PMID: 15200808
severe acute respiratory syndrome; infection control; delivery of healthcare
10.  Chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, depression and disordered sleep in chronic post-SARS syndrome; a case-controlled study 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:37.
The long term adverse effects of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a viral disease, are poorly understood.
Sleep physiology, somatic and mood symptoms of 22 Toronto subjects, 21 of whom were healthcare workers, (19 females, 3 males, mean age 46.29 yrs.+/- 11.02) who remained unable to return to their former occupation (mean 19.8 months, range: 13 to 36 months following SARS) were compared to 7 healthy female subjects. Because of their clinical similarities to patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) these post-SARS subjects were similarly compared to 21 drug free female patients, (mean age 42.4 +/- 11.8 yrs.) who fulfilled criteria for fibromyalgia.
Chronic post-SARS is characterized by persistent fatigue, diffuse myalgia, weakness, depression, and nonrestorative sleep with associated REM-related apneas/hypopneas, an elevated sleep EEG cyclical alternating pattern, and alpha EEG sleep anomaly. Post- SARS patients had symptoms of pre and post-sleep fatigue and post sleep sleepiness that were similar to the symptoms of patients with FMS, and similar to symptoms of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Both post-SARS and FMS groups had sleep instability as indicated by the high sleep EEG cyclical alternating pattern rate. The post-SARS group had a lower rating of the alpha EEG sleep anomaly as compared to the FMS patients. The post-SARS group also reported less pre-sleep and post-sleep musculoskeletal pain symptoms.
The clinical and sleep features of chronic post-SARS form a syndrome of chronic fatigue, pain, weakness, depression and sleep disturbance, which overlaps with the clinical and sleep features of FMS and chronic fatigue syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3071317  PMID: 21435231
11.  General hospital staff worries, perceived sufficiency of information and associated psychological distress during the A/H1N1 influenza pandemic 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:322.
Health care workers (HCWs) presented frequent concerns regarding their health and their families' health and high levels of psychological distress during previous disease outbreaks, such as the SARS outbreak, which was associated with social isolation and intentional absenteeism. We aimed to assess HCWs concerns and anxiety, perceived sufficiency of information, and intended behavior during the recent A/H1N1 influenza pandemic and their associations with psychological distress.
Between September 1st and 30th, 2009, 469 health-care workers (HCWs) of a tertiary teaching hospital completed a 20-item questionnaire regarding concerns and worries about the new A/H1N1 influenza pandemic, along with Cassileth's Information Styles Questionnaire (part-I) and the GHQ-28.
More than half of the present study's HCWs (56.7%) reported they were worried about the A/H1N1 influenza pandemic, their degree of anxiety being moderately high (median 6/9). The most frequent concern was infection of family and friends and the health consequences of the disease (54.9%). The perceived risk of being infected was considered moderately high (median 6/9). Few HCWs (6.6%) had restricted their social contacts and fewer (3.8%) felt isolated by their family members and friends because of their hospital work, while a low percentage (4.3%) indented to take a leave to avoid infection. However, worry and degree of worry were significantly associated with intended absenteeism (p < 0.0005), restriction of social contacts (p < 0.0005), and psychological distress (p = 0.036). Perceived sufficiency of information about several aspects of the A/H1N1 influenza was moderately high, and the overall information about the A/H1N1 influenza was considered clear (median 7.4/9). Also, perceived sufficiency of information for the prognosis of the infection was significantly independently associated with the degree of worry about the pandemic (p = 0.008).
A significant proportion of HCWs experienced moderately high anxiety about the pandemic, and their degree of worry was an independent correlate of psychological distress. Since perceived sufficiency of information about the A/H1N1 influenza prognosis was associated with reduced degree of worry, hospital managers and consultation-liaison psychiatry services should try to provide for HCWs' need for information, in order to offer favourable working conditions in times of extreme distress, such as the current and future pandemics.
PMCID: PMC2990753  PMID: 21062471
12.  Which preventive measures might protect health care workers from SARS? 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:81.
Despite the use of a series of preventive measures, a high incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was observed among health care workers (HCWs) during the SARS epidemic. This study aimed to determine which preventive measures may have been effective in protecting HCWs from infection, and which were not effective.
A retrospective study was performed among 758 'frontline' health care workers who cared for SARS patients at the Second Affiliated Hospital and the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University. The HCWs with IgG against SARS and those without IgG against SARS were respectively defined as the "case group" and the "control group", and logistic regression was conducted to explore the risk factors for SARS infection in HCWs.
After adjusting for age, gender, marital status, educational level, professional title, and the department in which an individual worked, the results of a multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that incidence of SARS among HCWs was significantly and positively associated with: performing tracheal intubations for SARS patients, methods used for air ventilation in wards, avoiding face-to-face interaction with SARS patients, the number of pairs of gloves worn by HCWs, and caring for serious SARS cases.
Some measures, particularly good air ventilation in SARS wards, may be effective in minimizing or preventing SARS transmission among HCWs in hospitals.
PMCID: PMC2666722  PMID: 19284644
13.  The Psychological Impact of the SARS Epidemic on Hospital Employees in China: Exposure, Risk Perception, and Altruistic Acceptance of Risk 
We examined the psychological impact of the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on hospital employees in Beijing, China.
In 2006, randomly selected employees (n = 549) of a hospital in Beijing were surveyed concerning their exposure to the 2003 SARS outbreak, and the ways in which the outbreak had affected their mental health.
About 10% of the respondents had experienced high levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms since the SARS outbreak. Respondents who had been quarantined, or worked in high-risk locations such as SARS wards, or had friends or close relatives who contracted SARS, were 2 to 3 times more likely to have high PTS symptom levels, than those without these exposures. Respondents’ perceptions of SARS-related risks were significantly positively associated with PTS symptom levels and partially mediated the effects of exposure. Altruistic acceptance of work-related risks was negatively related to PTS levels.
The psychological impact of stressful events related to an infectious disease outbreak may be mediated by peoples’ perceptions of those events; altruism may help to protect some health care workers against these negative impacts.
PMCID: PMC3780353  PMID: 19497162
severe acute respiratory syndrome; health care workers; posttraumatic stress; infectious disease outbreak; China
14.  Interpretation of diagnostic laboratory tests for severe acute respiratory syndrome: the Toronto experience 
An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) began in Canada in February 2003. The initial diagnosis of SARS was based on clinical and epidemiological criteria. During the outbreak, molecular and serologic tests for the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) became available. However, without a “gold standard,” it was impossible to determine the usefulness of these tests. We describe how these tests were used during the first phase of the SARS outbreak in Toronto and offer some recommendations that may be useful if SARS returns.
We examined the results of all diagnostic laboratory tests used in 117 patients admitted to hospitals in Toronto who met the Health Canada criteria for suspect or probable SARS. Focusing on tests for SARS-CoV, we attempted to determine the optimal specimen types and timing of specimen collection.
Diagnostic test results for SARS-CoV were available for 110 of the 117 patients. SARS-CoV was detected by means of reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in at least one specimen in 59 (54.1%) of 109 patients. Serologic test results of convalescent samples were positive in 50 (96.2%) of 52 patients for whom paired serum samples were collected during the acute and convalescent phases of the illness. Of the 110 patients, 78 (70.9%) had specimens that tested positive by means of RT-PCR, serologic testing or both methods. The proportion of RT-PCR test results that were positive was similar between patients who met the criteria for suspect SARS (50.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 38.4%–63.2%) and those who met the criteria for probable SARS (58.0%, 95% CI 44.2%–70.7%). SARS-CoV was detected in nasopharyngeal swabs in 33 (32.4%) of 102 patients, in stool specimens in 19 (63.3%) of 30 patients, and in specimens from the lower respiratory tract in 10 (58.8%) of 17 patients.
These findings suggest that the rapid diagnostic tests in use at the time of the initial outbreak lack sufficient sensitivity to be used clinically to rule out SARS. As tests for SARS-CoV continue to be optimized, evaluation of the clinical presentation and elucidation of a contact history must remain the cornerstone of SARS diagnosis. In patients with SARS, specimens taken from the lower respiratory tract and stool samples test positive by means of RT-PCR more often than do samples taken from other areas.
PMCID: PMC305313  PMID: 14707219
15.  Anti–SARS-CoV Immunoglobulin G in Healthcare Workers, Guangzhou, China 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2005;11(1):89-94.
Low level of immunity for SARS-CoV among well healthcare workers reinforces the need for infection control measures in hospitals to prevent epidemics.
To determine the prevalence of inapparent infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) among healthcare workers, we performed a serosurvey to test for immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibodies to the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) among 1,147 healthcare workers in 3 hospitals that admitted SARS patients in mid-May 2003. Among them were 90 healthcare workers with SARS. As a reference group, 709 healthcare workers who worked in 2 hospitals that never admitted any SARS patients were similarly tested. The seroprevalence rate was 88.9% (80/90) for healthcare workers with SARS and 1.4% (15/1,057) for healthcare workers who were apparently healthy. The seroprevalence in the reference group was 0.4% (3/709). These findings suggest that inapparent infection is uncommon. Low level of immunity among unaffected healthcare workers reinforces the need for adequate personal protection and other infection control measures in hospitals to prevent future epidemics.
PMCID: PMC3294349  PMID: 15705328
SARS; Seroprevalence; Healthcare workers; China; research
16.  Outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in a tertiary hospital in Singapore, linked to an index patient with atypical presentation: epidemiological study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7433):195.
Objective To describe an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in a tertiary hospital in Singapore, linked to an index patient with atypical presentation, and the lessons learnt from it.
Design Descriptive study.
Setting A tertiary hospital in Singapore.
Participants Patients, healthcare workers, and visitors who contracted SARS in Singapore General Hospital.
Main outcome measures Probable SARS as defined by the World Health Organization.
Results The index patient presented with gastrointestinal bleeding, initially without changes to his chest radiograph. Altogether 24 healthcare workers, 15 patients, and 12 family members and visitors were infected. The incubation period ranged from three to eight days. Only 13 patients were isolated on their dates of onset.
Conclusions Atypical presentation of SARS infection must be taken into consideration when managing patients with a history of contact with SARS patients. The main gap in the containment strategy in this outbreak was the failure to identify the index patient as someone who had been discharged from a ward in another hospital that managed probable SARS cases. Strict infection control measures, a good surveillance system, early introduction of isolation procedures, and vigilant healthcare professionals are essential for controlling outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC318482  PMID: 14726369
17.  Using simulation for training and to change protocol during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome 
Critical Care  2005;10(1):R3.
During the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis, we proposed and tested a new protocol for cardiac arrest in a patient with SARS. The protocol was rapidly and effectively instituted by teamwork training using high-fidelity simulation.
Phase 1 was a curriculum design of a SARS-specific cardiac arrest protocol in three steps: planning the new protocol, repeated simulations of this protocol in a classroom, and a subsequent simulation of a cardiac arrest on a hospital ward. Phase 2 was the training of 275 healthcare workers (HCWs) using the new protocol. Training involved a seminar, practice in wearing the mandatory personal protection system (PPS), and cardiac arrest simulations with subsequent debriefing.
Simulation provided insights that had not been considered in earlier phases of development. For example, a single person can don a PPS worn for the SARS patient in 1 1/2 minutes. However, when multiple members of a cardiac arrest team were dressing simultaneously, the time to don the PPS increased to between 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 minutes. Errors in infection control as well as in medical management of advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) were corrected.
During the SARS crisis, real-time use of a high-fidelity simulator allowed the training of 275 HCWs in 2 weeks, with debriefing and error management. HCWs were required to manage the SARS cardiac arrest wearing unfamiliar equipment and following a modified ACLS protocol. The insight gained from this experience will be valuable for future infectious disease challenges in critical care.
PMCID: PMC1550819  PMID: 16356209
18.  SARS in Hospital Emergency Room 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(5):782-788.
Thirty-one cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) occurred after exposure in the emergency room at the National Taiwan University Hospital. The index patient was linked to an outbreak at a nearby municipal hospital. Three clusters were identified over a 3-week period. The first cluster (5 patients) and the second cluster (14 patients) occurred among patients, family members, and nursing aids. The third cluster (12 patients) occurred exclusively among healthcare workers. Six healthcare workers had close contact with SARS patients. Six others, with different working patterns, indicated that they did not have contact with a SARS patient. Environmental surveys found 9 of 119 samples of inanimate objects to be positive for SARS coronavirus RNA. These observations indicate that although transmission by direct contact with known SARS patients was responsible for most cases, environmental contamination with the SARS coronavirus may have lead to infection among healthcare workers without documented contact with known hospitalized SARS patients.
PMCID: PMC3323223  PMID: 15200809
Severe acute respiratory syndrome; healthcare workers; environmental contamination; real-time reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction
19.  Asymptomatic SARS Coronavirus Infection among Healthcare Workers, Singapore 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2005;11(7):1142-1145.
We conducted a study among healthcare workers (HCWs) exposed to patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) before infection control measures were instituted. Of all exposed HCWs, 7.5% had asymptomatic SARS-positive cases. Asymptomatic SARS was associated with lower SARS antibody titers and higher use of masks when compared to pneumonic SARS.
PMCID: PMC3371799  PMID: 16022801
asymptomatic SARS Coronavirus infection; SARS seroconversion; SARS epidemiology; Singapore
20.  Appropriate use of personal protective equipment among healthcare workers in public sector hospitals and primary healthcare polyclinics during the SARS outbreak in Singapore 
Chia, S | Koh, D | Fones, C | Qian, F | Ng, V | Tan, B | Wong, K | Chew, W | Tang, H | Ng, W | Muttakin, Z | Emmanuel, S | Fong, N | Koh, G | Lim, M
Background: Singapore was affected by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) from 25 February to 31 May 2003, with 238 probable cases and 33 deaths.
Aims: To study usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) among three groups of healthcare workers (HCWs: doctors, nurses, and administrative staff), to determine if the appropriate PPE were used by the different groups and to examine the factors that may determine inappropriate use.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire survey of 14 554 HCWs in nine healthcare settings, which included tertiary care hospitals, community hospitals, and polyclinics, was carried out in May–July 2003. Only doctors, nurses, and clerical staff were selected for subsequent analysis.
Results: A total of 10 236 valid questionnaires were returned (70.3% response); 873 doctors, 4404 nurses, and 921 clerical staff were studied. A total of 32.5% of doctors, 48.7% of nurses, and 77.1% of the administrative staff agreed that paper and/or surgical masks were "useful in protecting from contracting SARS". Among this group, 23.6% of doctors and 42.3% of nurses reported working with SARS patients. The view that a paper and/or surgical mask was adequate protection against SARS was held by 33.3% of doctors and 55.9% of nurses working at the A&E unit, 30.5% of doctors and 49.4% of nurses from medical wards, and 27.5% of doctors and 37.1% of nurses from intensive care units. Factors which predicted for agreement that paper and/or surgical masks were protective against SARS, included HCW's job title, reported contact with SARS patients, area of work, and Impact Events Scale scores.
Conclusion: A variety of factors determine appropriate use of personal protective equipment by HCWs in the face of a major SARS outbreak.
PMCID: PMC1741057  PMID: 15961624
21.  Risk of ruling out severe acute respiratory syndrome by ruling in another diagnosis: Variable incidence of atypical bacteria coinfection based on diagnostic assays 
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused the first epidemic of the 21st century and continues to threaten the global community.
To assess the incidence of coinfection in patients confirmed to have SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection, and thus, to determine the risk of ruling out SARS by ruling in another diagnosis.
The present report is a retrospective study evaluating the incidence and impact of laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV and other pulmonary pathogens in 117 patients. These patients were evaluated in a Toronto, Ontario, community hospital identified as the epicentre for the second SARS outbreak.
Coinfection with other pulmonary pathogens occured in patients with SARS. Seventy-three per cent of the patient population evaluated had laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV infection. Serology showing acute or recent Chlamydophila pneumoniae or Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection revealed an incidence of 30% and 9%, respectively, in those with SARS. These rates are similar to previously published studies on coinfection in pneumonia. All nucleic acid diagnostic assays were negative for C pneumoniae and M pneumoniae in respiratory samples from patients with SARS having serological evidence for these atypical pathogens.
Diagnostic assays for well-recognized pulmonary pathogens have limitations, and ruling out SARS-CoV by ruling in another pulmonary pathogen carries significant risk. Despite positive serology for atypical pathogens, in a setting where clinical suspicion for SARS is high, specific tests for SARS should be performed to confirm or exclude a diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC2539008  PMID: 16470249
Coinfection; Coronavirus; Epidemic; Pneumonia; SARS
22.  The Impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome on Medical House Staff 
To explore the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on a medical training program and to develop principles for professional training programs to consider in dealing with future, similar crises.
Qualitative interviews analyzed using grounded theory methodology.
University-affiliated hospitals in Toronto, Canada during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Medical house staff who were allocated to a general internal medicine clinical teaching unit, infectious diseases consultation service, or intensive care unit.
Seventeen medical residents participated in this study. Participants described their experiences during the outbreak and highlighted several themes including concerns about their personal safety and about the negative impact of the outbreak on patient care, house staff education, and their emotional well-being.
The ability of residents to cope with the stress of the SARS outbreak was enhanced by the communication of relevant information and by the leadership of their supervisors and infection control officers. It is hoped that training programs for health care professionals will be able to implement these tenets of crisis management as they develop strategies for dealing with future health threats.
PMCID: PMC1490116  PMID: 15963157
medical house staff; severe acute respiratory distress syndrome; training program; outbreak
23.  SARS Transmission and Hospital Containment 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(3):395-400.
An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was detected in Singapore at the beginning of March 2003. The outbreak, initiated by a traveler to Hong Kong in late February 2003, led to sequential spread of SARS to three major acute care hospitals in Singapore. The critical factor in containing this outbreak was early detection and complete assessment of movements and follow-up of patients, healthcare workers, and visitors who were contacts. Visitor records were important in helping identify exposed persons who could carry the infection into the community. In the three hospital outbreaks, three different containment strategies were used to contain spread of infection: closing an entire hospital, removing all potentially infected persons to a dedicated SARS hospital, and managing exposed persons in place. On the basis of this experience, if a nosocomial outbreak is detected late, a hospital may need to be closed in order to contain spread of the disease. Outbreaks detected early can be managed by either removing all exposed persons to a designated location or isolating and managing them in place.
PMCID: PMC3322797  PMID: 15109403
coronavirus; cross infections; hospital; infection control; nosocomial infections; severe acute respiratory syndrome; Singapore
24.  Hospital Preparedness and SARS 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(5):771-776.
On May 23, 2003, Toronto experienced the second phase of a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. Ninety cases were confirmed, and >620 potential cases were managed. More than 9,000 persons had contact with confirmed or potential case-patients; many required quarantine. The main hospital involved during the second outbreak was North York General Hospital. We review this hospital’s response to, and management of, this outbreak, including such factors as building preparation and engineering, personnel, departmental workload, policies and documentation, infection control, personal protective equipment, training and education, public health, management and administration, follow-up of SARS patients, and psychological and psychosocial management and research. We also make recommendations for other institutions to prepare for future outbreaks, regardless of their origin.
PMCID: PMC3323236  PMID: 15200807
Severe acute respiratory syndrome; outbreak; hospital; management
25.  Control of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Singapore 
A Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak occurred in Singapore from February to May 2003. A high vigilance for the disease, frequent and regular temperature monitoring, early case identification and isolation of patients, as well as tracing and home quarantine of contacts, played major roles in controlling the outbreak. Hospitals were dedicated to the screening and treatment of SARS patients. Within and between hospitals, movement by healthcare workers, patients and visitors were restricted, as was the number of hospital visitors. Staff education and audits of infection control practices also featured prominently.
To prevent cross-border transmission, incoming travellers from SARS affected areas had to complete health declaration cards. They, as well as all outgoing travellers from Singapore, were monitored for fever. In the meantime, the public was urged to refrain from travelling to SARS affected regions.
Containment elements targeting the community included school closure, public education on good hygiene and readily accessible public information.
In response to a laboratory acquired SARS infection, laboratories were audited, and directives issued on the mandatory use of biosafety level 3 laboratories for SARS virus culture, and compliance of laboratory workers to biosafety guidelines.
PMCID: PMC2723408  PMID: 21432128
outbreak control; SARS; patient isolation; quarantine; contact tracing

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