Nov 3, 2009 2:19 PM by sleonard
American College of Emergency Physicians Issues Guidance for the Public On When to Visit the Emergency Department With H1N1 Flu Symptoms:
Guidance Developed in Cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesWashington, DC---With H1N1 flu activity reported in 48 states and continuing to increase, the nation's emergency physicians have issued guidelines to the public to help them determine whether their symptoms warrant visiting the emergency department. Developed in cooperation with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Emergency Care Coordination Center, divisions of HHS, the guidelines are directed at adults age 18 and older and are posted at http://www.acep.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=46870.
"Emergency physicians are on the frontlines of this national emergency," said Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). "People are understandably concerned about contracting the H1N1 virus and confused about when to seek emergency care and when to stay home. That is why we developed a set of guidelines based on symptoms and the patient's overall state of health to help them make that decision."
The guidelines lead off with the question "do you have a fever or feel feverish and have a cough and/or sore throat?" If the answer is "no," then emergency medical care is probably unwarranted.
If the answer is "yes," the guidelines offer a list of symptoms that indicate severe illness that does warrant a visit to the emergency department, such as difficulty breathing, inability to keep liquids down and changes in behavior.
Finally, the guidelines list conditions (pregnancy, chronic heart disease, etc.) that might require a visit to the emergency department if accompanied by fever, cough and/or sore throat.
"Ultimately, you are probably the best judge of whether to seek emergency care," said Dr. Gardner. "If you think you are having an emergency, come see us. We are specialists in diagnosing and treating all kinds of emergencies, including flu. Our doors are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year."
ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine with more than 28,000 members. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.