when you (really) need to go to the emergency room – WWN

when you (really) need to go to the emergency room – WWN


Of Maria Giovanna Faiella

President Simeu: «In many emergency facilities there are also 70-80 patients (many elderly) crowded together, waiting for a bed in the ward. In some cases oxygen stations exhausted.” From 18 to 24 December more than one million cases of influenza-like syndrome (ISS). Still time to get vaccinated

In these days like every winter, also thanks to the Christmas period in which meetings and moments of conviviality intensify, cases of influence, Covid and others parainfluenza syndromes. There’s more: this year, in the week from 18 to 24 December – as shown by the data from the RespiVirNet epidemiological bulletinintegrated surveillance system for respiratory viruses managed by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità – «the epidemic curve of flu-like syndromes shows an incidence value never reached in previous seasons».
Many go to Emergency room either because they have serious respiratory problems or even because they can’t find the family doctorbeing closed
the clinics on these holidays. In many hospitals the emergency emergency facilities I’m under pressure, with including elderly patients that remain days on stretchers waiting for a bed in the ward.
But in case of flu or Covid is it really necessary (and in which cases) to go to the emergency room? Who should you turn to if your family doctor isn’t there?

«Patients on stretchers crowded together, waiting for a bed»

That the emergency rooms could “explode” after Christmas, col peak of the flu (expected these days) and theincrease in respiratory viruses in circulationit has been known for some time (we talked about it here: Emergency room in trouble with doctors “on the run” and patients waiting for hospitalization. And they could “explode” after Christmas). «She is called»winter emergency” but in a completely inappropriate way, because it cannot be an “emergency”. epidemiological phase which we expect every year, and we know it will come – underlines Dr. Fabio De Iaco, president of the Italian Society of Emergency Medicine (Simeu) –. It may seem almost trivial to repeat it every year but it is not at all when you find yourself in the emergency room with 60,70, 80 patients crowded together, a couple of doctors who have to assist them and a small number of nurses compared to the need – De Iaco comments -. In many hospitals there are problems that have been known for years, such as “boarding” (patients who remain in the emergency room awaiting admission to the ward ed), not enough stretchersin some cases
it also happens that the number of oxygen supply stations in the emergency room runs out because in this period the number of patients with respiratory diseases is increasing. Another problem of overcrowding – continues President Simeu – is that thehigh population density in the same spaces increases the (dangerous) possibility of one overlap of multiple viruses in already fragile people
due to pre-existing pathologies
. It would be useful to stop talking about a “winter emergency” and, with everyone’s cooperation, plan resources and procedures in time, overcoming the logic of additional services and the exceptional commitment of the individual doctor and nurse” hopes De Iaco.

When you need to go to the emergency room

In case you have one “bad” flu or the Covid, necessary or not go to the emergency room? «The peculiarity of this epidemiological phase is that many patients arriving in the emergency room are elderly people or anyway “fragile” people due to other pathologies, therefore we cannot discharge them and make them go home – explains President Simeu -. They must be admitted to the ward but often there is no bed available and, to deal with the emergency, many hospitals are activating plans for managing overcrowding in the emergency room: in general, however, they do not provide a increase in beds (or, in any case, it is a limited increase, 5-6 more units, compared to the requirement of dozens of beds) but, in fact, the temporary conversion of beds (usually of the surgical area) in favor of the medical area».

The flu (and also Covid) can be treated at home

It also happens that you go to the emergency room when it is not neededas Dr. De Iaco reports: «There is a fair number of patients that arrives in the emergency room with fever and sore throat because they can’t find the doctor who visits them, how it happened often on these holidays where the family doctor’s office is closed or the local medical service is not available”. Advice? «If it’s one normal person” That He has no major pathologies – for example of a cardiological or pneumological nature – and has fever of 38-39, cough and coldcan treat yourself at home by consulting your doctor even just by telephone and taking antipyretics correctly (with the correct dosage and regularly, every 7-8 hours) – suggests President Simeu –. In these cases there is no need to go to the emergency room Where increases the chance of infecting yourself or othersand only contributes to increasing the confusion in these emergency facilities and the workload of the operators who have to deal with emergencies and urgencies.”

Same advice for who has the
Covid. «It is not necessary to go at all in hospitalunless you have them breathing problems which may require the need for oxygen” says Dr. De Iaco.

It should be remembered that, in general, in the treatment of flu, Covid and other viral forms,
antibiotics should not be takenunless your doctor prescribes them (other advice on therapies here).

If the family doctor is not there on New Year’s Eve (and other public holidays)

Family doctors’ surgeries are closed on weekdays holidays and pre-holidays, therefore also on New Year’s Eve. Whether you have health problems due to flu or Covid or other ailments or a sudden illness, you can turn to the Continuity of care service (formerly on call), that provides medical services that are not urgent but cannot be postponed either (also on weekdays during the night, from 8pm to 8am).

As always, in emergency and urgent situations, 118 (or 112) should be called where it is active) or go (or be accompanied) directly at the emergency room.

Still time to get vaccinated (for flu and Covid)

According to data from the RespiVirNet surveillance system, updated to 29 December, in the week from 18 to 24 December the number of cases of flu-like syndromes increased further, with an incidence of 17.2 cases per thousand assisted (15, 6 in the previous week). In the monitored week «i estimated cases of flu-like syndromecompared to the entire Italian population are approximately 1,013,000».
There’s still time to do it flu vaccine and anti-Covid vaccine?

“I am There are various pathogens that contribute to the increase in flu-like syndromes which we are also witnessing this week; among these, there is the SARS-CoV-2 which it is now permanently settled among us
is that

circulates at sustained levels with the influenza virusas well as the




respiratory syncytial virus

responsible for bronchiolitis in younger children – says Anna Teresa Palamara, director of the Infectious Diseases Department of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità –. And this confirms theimportance of vaccination especially for elderly people, those with chronic illnesses or those who are otherwise fragile. We also recommend one healthy prudence to be observed above all if you have them
respiratory symptoms and if you are in the presence of very young children, elderly or frail people» (other tips here).

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December 30, 2023 (modified December 30, 2023 | 07:49)



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