Emergency room at children’s hospital overwhelmed due to flu, staff says call pediatrician first

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CHICAGO – One Chicago hospital is telling parents to call a pediatrician before heading to the emergency room if their child has flu-like symptoms.

There’s been an influx of flu patients in the emergency room at Lurie Children’s Hospital as flu season kicks into high gear. But the hospital’s emergency room specialists estimate one in five of the patients they’ve seen in the last several days could have been treated in their pediatrician’s office.

“A lot of these individuals come to Lurie when they should be going to their pediatrician or urgent care. And if it's deemed seriously ill they can then be referred to emergency room,” Dr. Tina Tan, infectious disease specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital, said.

Dr. Tan said unnecessary emergency room visits not only drags out wait times but it could expose your child to other illnesses.

Flu season is peaking early this year but doctors said it’s never too late to get vaccinated and parents should try not to panic.

“Flu can get serious. The major takeaway is that everyone should be vaccinated for influenza. The other thing is yes there are complications that can occur that can cause death but they are extraordinarily rare and it's not something a parent should just worry about. So if their child is having fever, runny nose, call pediatrician first before running into the emergency room,” Dr. Tan said.


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