Many people are coming to the emergency department to be tested for the swine flu.
A few things to consider before joining your bretheren …
First, unless you meet specific criteria set by each state for testing, you won’t get the swine flu test even if you’re sick. I’m not going to tell you what the criteria are because I don’t want people faking the criteria just to get tested. You may get the basic influenza A/B test, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get swine flu tested. The State Health Departments and/or the CDC does the testing. I’m not aware of any in-house hospital swine flu testing that is available, so chances are good that you won’t have the answer back during your visit, anyway.
Second, everyone else in your city is worrying about the same thing. Many family medicine doctors are just telling patients to go to the emergency department if they have concerns about swine flu. You’re not crazy, but don’t buy into the pandemonium … yet.
Third, so far the virulence in the US is not impressive. That may change, but if the bug isn’t going to make you that sick, it will be just like the regular flu. Think about West Nile Virus – many of us have probably already had the asymptomatic form of the disease and didn’t even know it. West Nile only makes a small minority of its victims (about 1 in 140) very ill.
Fourth, is an overcrowded waiting room with a bunch of coughing and sneezing people really the place you want to be waiting for several hours before you get taken back to a room in the emergency department? If you didn’t have swine flu before you went to the hospital, chances are that you’ll get it in the waiting room with all the other sick people.
Fifth, Tamiflu has gone black market. Call around to pharmacies. Chances are that in many cities you’ll have difficulty getting a prescription filled – even if you have the $200 to fork over. This stuff is worth more than Viagra right now.
Finally, a story about one of the patients with frequent flyer miles who came to our emergency department last night. Actually, he was brought to our emergency department last night — by the big red taxi with the spinning light on top. The 911 call went out for “swine flu victim.”
This guy isn’t someone that understands logic. He got back to the room and the nurse went right into the room, showed him a proctology swab (a ginormous Q-Tip about 16 inches long) and told him that in order to be tested, the doctor would have to shove this thing all the way up his nose. Yeah, in fact, several people who had already been tested had passed out.