As the 2018–19 influenza season peaks in the United States, public health officials and academic experts are pleading with patients to stay away from the emergency room if they have flu symptoms—and instead head to their nearest urgent care center. The Rhode Island Department of Health, for one, issued a statement singling out urgent care as the ideal setting for flu testing and treatment, to avoid both long waits and high costs in the ED and to reduce the risk of exposing others in the waiting room to flu. “An urgent care facility, or other type of express care facility, is often a more convenient, less expensive option,” Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, director of the state DOH, noted in a press release. Stephen Russell, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, agrees. “If you have all of those classic flu-like symptoms, it’s really best to either see or call your primary care provider or visit an urgent care center,” he said. Meanwhile, a new report in Clinical Infectious Diseases estimates that immunization prevented some 8,000 deaths from flu last year. That number would likely have been even higher if more people followed immunization recommendations; citing CDC data, the article also reveals that only 42% of the U.S. population got a flu shot in preparation for the 2017–18 season. JUCM published an original article on assessing and treating patients with flu symptoms early this season. Treating Patients Infected with Influenza Virus in the Urgent Care Setting is still available in our archive.


Flu Update: Warnings from Experts, a Nod to Urgent Care, and More Evidence that Immunization Works
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