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The Canadian study, led by Dr. Anand Kumar of the Health Sciences Center and St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, involved 168 critically ill patients treated at 38 hospitals between April and August. The 90-day death rate was 17 percent.
The JAMA editorial noted that while treatment including antibiotics, antiviral drugs and mechanical breathing machines has advanced since the deadly 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, many U.S. hospitals may lack adequate staffing levels to provide timely treatment if critical swine flu cases surge.
Deaths that result from inadequate planning "will be especially tragic," the editorial said.
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