Re: Expectations in the Emergency Room during H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) Outbreak
Since the start of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) outbreak, hospital emergency rooms are experiencing a sharp rise in people coming in with concerns about their health. There are longer wait times in emergency rooms throughout the region. To address this increase, New York Hospital Queens has additional staff on hand to examine people in our emergency room.
To help our local media and community leaders respond to residents’ concerns about risk and infection, we would like to address several common questions we hear from those coming to our emergency room:
Hospitals do not perform H1N1 virus testing. Testing for the H1N1 virus can only be done by the NYC Department of Health, not your local hospital. While emergency rooms do test for seasonal flu, those tests are being reserved for patients with severe flu-like symptoms.
Doctors are only giving antiviral medicines, such as Tamiflu, to those with severe illness or certain underlying medical conditions. Most flu lasts only a few days, and most people recover completely without medication, so use it only if your doctor recommends it. If you have other underlying medical conditions, you should consult with your doctor.
If you think you have the flu, follow these guidelines from the NYC Department of Health:
If the illness gets worse (see list of symptoms below), seek medical attention from your doctor or a hospital emergency department. When you arrive, go to the receptionist and explain that you have flu-like symptoms. You may be asked to wear a mask or sit in a separate area. If you call an ambulance to take you to the hospital, let the 911 operator know that you have flu-like symptoms and tell the ambulance crew, too.
Signs that an adult needs to go the hospital, include: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or stomach, sudden dizziness, confusion, or severe, persistent vomiting.
Signs that a child needs to go to the hospital, include: fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held, or fever with a rash.
For more facts on H1N1 virus, click on the following NYC Department of Health link at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/cd/h1n1_flu_faq.pdf.
We hope you find this information useful, and please share it with your friends, family and coworkers.