Back to Normal


I finished a much busier than usual week at work after taking the first week of October off for the ACEP Conference. Well worth the trip.

Our ED has been overrun with influenza victims and volumes are going up significantly. Many patients with influenza and respiratory distress have been admitted to the ICU. We routinely get multiple patients in a row registering to be seen for fever/cough/sore throat/body aches. I ask every patient if they have received their flu shots. Only two patients out of many dozens had done so. Lots of patients are sitting in the waiting room coughing all over each other. If you don’t have the flu coming into the ED, you’ll have it by the time you leave.

One other thing about the flu – if you are going to get vaccinated, do so soon. Many places in our region are running low on seasonal influenza vaccine (H1N1 vaccine is just starting to be distributed). Don’t wait for an appointment a month away to get the seasonal flu vaccine – there might not be any vaccine left.

Working on several posts now. Going to do a Healthcare Roundup Double Feature. One part – exclusively about influenza – will be posted over at ER Stories, and the other will be posted here. Will try to have them up later today.


  1. So, is the flu worse, or is everyone just worried they have a horribly fatal flu plague? It seems the media is doing a good job talking it up, and I was curious as to the hype:reality ratio?

  2. I don’t get the idea being vaccinated against the Influenza Virus.

    I mean isn’t it that virus the one with the fastest mutation?

    You can’t possibly vaccinate for the “actual” virus going around?

    I haven’t been vaccinated against it in my life once and only got sick from Influenza C, actual Influenza C, not the flu-like sickness what most of you call the flu, once in my whole life.

    • 2 things (and please, take this in context, I’m a third year medical student, not an influenza expert):

      1. I believe the influenza vaccine in any given year is manufactured to protect against a theoretical virus (actually 3 theoretical viruses) that epidemiologists have predicted will be the most likely to cause harm in the upcoming flu season. The manufacturers do not pick the strain that is currently infecting people, but the strain they predict will pose the greatest threat.

      2. The influenza virus mutates quickly, but not that quickly. Think about the fact that other vaccines are given a couple times in a person’s life, and this one is recommended yearly. In this case, mutating about once a year is “fast.” If the epidemiologists were able to correctly predict which strain would cause the most harm in a particular season, the vaccine for that year should be effective for the entire flu season.

  3. And no I’m not one of those against all and any vaccination nuts. Not at all, I just don’t get why I should be vaccinated against a virus that’s already mutated to something entirely different than the vaccine was developed for.

  4. So completely off topic, but am I the only one amused that an ER(ED makes me think of limp willies, not something I like to dwell on) docs blogsite uses the term call room in its title when ER docs are one of the few specialties to never have had call.

    • Every ED that I have worked in has a place for the emergency department physicians to shower/lay down/make phone calls, etc. when there is a lull in the action. It goes by various names such as the “lounge,” the “office,” or “the call room.”

  5. It is my understanding that most all of the flu seen here in Houston has been H1N1. Up to this point, no one can have had their shot long enough ago to actually protect them.

    I got the seasonal flu shot, and will ask for H1N1 as soon as my class of people (low risk) is offered it.

    Don, I think that the mutated virus will be close enough to the one used for the shot that your body will get a head start in fighting it. If you are vaccinated.

  6. Oh well, thanks for the clarification folks. Maybe I will get vaccinated someday in the far future.

    Like I said haven’t been vaccinated against H1N1 my whole life, and got sick with actual Influenza once. It was a b*tch though!

    Other than that I get all the “mandatory” vaccinations, like Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis and whatnot, don’t remember them all ;).

  7. yep. the public’s “strategy” around here seems to be:

    1) refuse to take any flu vaccination because there is a government conspiracy to try to kill you

    2) go to the ED with a chief complaint of “here to be tested for swine flu” every time you get a cold

    it’s going to be a fun winter..

  8. We still call the little room in the back of the ER where the er docs get to lie down the “call” room. When I am back there I am always getting called!

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