Monday, November 2, 2009

Surviving H1N1

Where in the Hell have I been lately?

Well, Organic Chemistry is trying to kill me, I swear. And I have been working like a dog thanks to the pesky H1N1. I havemore updates later, but those will come unde separate cover...

What is it like to be a respiratory theapist in the throes of an early and horrendous flu season? "Suffocating" would be the first word I would choose. Everyone with a cough is in droplet precautions, which means I have to mask up before entering just about any room in the hospital. And we have gotten so out of hand with it! I had a vent patient who was known to have aspiration pneumonia. He had been on the vent for weeks when I went to treat him a few days ago. Imagine my surprise when I see a large "Droplet Precaution" sign on his door in the ICU. Why? Because he has pneumonia, we assume he has swine flu. Ridiculous.
Another example: I was working the ER the other night. The doctor was ordering my services for everyone. After about 5 unnecessary breathing treatments, I asked why a patient in with nausea/ vomiting with 100% clear lungs would need it. His response? Well, I think she has H1N1, so she may wheeze in the future. Again, ridiculous.
People are so panicked. Checking into the ER for sneezing, literally. Entire families checking in together. The ER's are clogged with this stuff, limiting access to care for people who need it most.
It irks me in a big way.
I know the flu sucks. I also know a new strain of anything is scary. But if you are healthy and just having manageable symptoms, there is nothing that can be done for you in the ER that cannot be done at home. So stay there. Tylenol works for fevers, Gatorade and Jell-O work for dehydration. And these are all infinitely cheaper than an ER bill.

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