Hospitals Turning Away ER Patients Because Already Packed Due to Flu Epidemic

Across the country, the media has been saying we're in the midst of a flu epidemic.  According to recent media reports, it has grown so large that in many areas, hospitals have had to turn away emergency room patients because they are overcrowded with flu patients.  

Yes, the next time you make the mistake of getting in an accident, or having a heart attack, you may want to ensure the local hospital isn't full of flu patients. Apparently, flu vaccines this year are only proving effective to approximately 60% of the population.  So people have been flocking to the hospital to seek help for their symptoms.  Hospital staff at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago that they aren't seeing more seriously sickened people, just more sick people in general.

Is it Warranted to Turn Emergency Patients Away in Favor of Flu Patients?

Given the response some hospitals have taken, it begs the question of whether or not it is warranted to turn emergency room patients away in favor of an influx of flu patients.  Should intake specialists diagnose flu like symptoms and tell patients to treat themselves at home?  What if they miss something in the diagnosis? Does it make sense to turn away patients who may be suffering from more serious injuries? 

Ideally, a hospital won't have to turn patients away, but as innocuous as the flu sounds, it can actually be quite serious to some people, especially those with compromised immune systems such as children, pregnant women and the elderly.  The flu could potentially lead to more severe problems such as:

  • death.  Presently 18 children have died as a result of this flu epidemic
  • difficulty breathing, including rapid and shallow breaths
  • dehydration as a result of severe vomiting, lack of fluids
  • heart complications as a result of vomiting and dehydration
While it seems silly that flu patients are crowding the emergency room, there are many people who are not overreacting and who desperately need assistance from healthcare providers.  At risk patients could literally be putting their lives on the line. 

If you come down with the flu, odds are that after a few days at home with fluids and rest, you'll be fine.  But if you've got a compromised immune system, you may want to seek medical attention.  If you feel that you were turned away from a hospital and later suffered injury as a result, you should call an experienced personal injury attorney to determine whether or not you have a case.