The onset of flu season is never welcome, but this year's outbreak has been particularly virulent, leaving emergency departments (ED) in many states filled – and in many cases, overflowing.
The "flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now" Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement to the media, and is not going away anytime soon.
The surge in patient volume is so bad that in Alabama the governor has called a state of emergency. Some EDs have become so overrun staff are treating patients in recovery rooms and hallways. In California, another hard-hit state, at least one hospital was forced to set up tents outside the ED due to the excess volume.
Aside from the obvious challenge regarding physical capacity, there are ED staffing issues. Even if beds are available, there may not be enough medical staff to care for the...