Flu patients clog up emergency departments

A study has proved that patients with influenza are clogging up EDs in winter.

The review of 11 million presentations to 115 hospitals over five flu seasons, from 2010-14, showed a clear association between circulating influenza and a reduction in ED throughput.

Levels of circulating influenza were associated with access block and higher rates of patients exceeding the national four-hour target for maximum length of stay in EDs.

A message from the findings was that all primary care patients should be encouraged to receive influenza vaccination to avoid ED visits.