Precautionary measures being taken at Texas hospitals for combating flu

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Precautionary measures are being taken at hospital ERs across Texas in order to deal with record numbers of flu cases this season. According to a recent article on NBCDFW.com, hospital emergency rooms, including the one at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, are screening visitors for flu symptoms and not allowing children under 12 to be in the patient areas unless they are being treated. Another North Texas Hospital is requiring patients in the ER to wear masks to prevent any possible spreading of the flu.

The Texas Department of State Health Services classified current flu activity in Texas as "widespread." This classification--the highest of its kind--is used when there is an increase in flu-like illnesses and confirmed flu cases in at least half of the state's regions. The American Statesman reports Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin began treating some patients in triage tents outside the ER in order to manage the influx of children with flu-like symptoms. The hospital also experienced staff shortages, with 10-15 ER nurses out with the flu.

Many area patients, frustrated with long wait times and worried about possible exposure at these hospital ERs, are choosing to seek treatment at freestanding emergency clinics, such as First Choice Emergency Room centers in Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Governor Rick Perry recently signed a bill into law which regulates and defines these freestanding emergency facilities. With a number of these centers already open throughout the state, the bill paves the way for facilities such as these to help ease the burden on overcrowded hospital emergency rooms.

"First Choice ER has proactively geared up to help alleviate the 2009 flu season's impact on patients and medical facilities alike. It's more important than ever that the public educate itself on flu symptoms, ways to stay healthy, and most importantly, when it's time to seek medical attention," said Rick Covert, COO at First Choice Emergency Room.

While most flu cases are treated by drinking plenty of clear fluids and getting rest, there are some symptoms to watch for, especially in children, which might call for a trip to the emergency room:

  • For children: Severe vomiting, dehydration, fast or troubled breathing, difficulty waking, irritability, not wanting to be held, bluish or gray skin color, and symptoms that improve, but return with an increased fever or worsened cough.
  • For adults: Fast or troubled breathing, abdominal or chest pains, severe vomiting, dizziness, confusion, and symptoms that return after improvement.

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