H1N1 scare leads to busy emergency rooms

By Contributor
November 12th, 2009

Interior Health would like to remind everyone that hospital Emergency Departments are designed for the treatment of seriously ill patients and those requiring urgent care. If you go to the Emergency Department when your symptoms aren’t serious, this can result in high volumes and delays in treatment.

Most cases of the H1N1 flu virus in BC have been mild, with people recovering on their own, at home. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, particularly if you have a cough and a fever, it’s advised you stay home for 7-10 days or until your symptoms have resolved and you’re able to continue with daily activities. This will help prevent the spread of infection.

Anyone who has concerns about their symptoms, or whose symptoms worsen, should contact their family physician or HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 or log on to their website at www.healthlinkbc.ca. This line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A nurse will be available take your call and advise you of the appropriate next steps.

The “H1N1 Symptom Checker” has also been added to the HealthLink BC website. Based on the answers, the tool will let you know how soon to seek care by a health professional and/or provide a link on information about H1N1. The tool will not provide a diagnosis for H1N1.

While emergencies are unavoidable, there are some things people can do to avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital:

· Symptoms related to H1N1 are cough, fever, general aches, and fatigue and may last up to 10 days or longer for some people. If you, or a family member, are experiencing these symptoms, stay at home until your symptoms resolve.

· Call HealthLink BC (8-1-1) or log on to their website at www.healthlinkbc.ca if you have questions—this service is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.

· If you need non-urgent care, or are a high-risk patient (i.e., chronic condition, pregnant, immuno-compromized, etc.), contact your family doctor, or the doctor on call for their clinic or practice. Advise them of your symptoms in advance by calling ahead.

· The recommendation for patients with risk factors and mild symptoms is treatment with Tamiflu, started within 48 hours of onset of symptoms (the earlier the better). Please contact your family physician to discuss this treatment if you have risk factors and symptoms.

If you need to come to the hospital, as a patient or visitor, please bring your own reading materials and/or toys for your children to play with while in waiting areas. In order to prevent the spread of infection, these items may not be available in public waiting areas at this time.

For more information on how to protect yourself from influenza, and how to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu virus, visit www.interiorhealth.ca.

Categories: General