Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Winter in "more flu" shock

The chart is German data, percentages of outpatients seeking treatment in accident and emergency (red) compared to the on-call doctor (blue), 2009-2014. It's from an article in Der Spiegel which discusses the phenomenon of emergency room overcrowding in dispassionate terms, whereas in Ireland, emergency room overcrowding is Something Else Uniquely to Ireland That Must Be The Government's Fault.

Two takeaways from the German case and the finding that overuse of A and E is a worsening issue.

First, up to half the people in A and E as outpatients should not be there. For example, they've self-diagnosed (often through Google) that whatever ails them is the worst possible thing and head to the hospital.

Second, the media-attracting phenomenon of long waits and stacked up patients is just the standard medical triage at work -- you assess and then prioritize treatment by the seriousness of conditions. With seasonal bugs, it's going to look worse, but if that's predictable for the hospitals, it's also predictable for the patients.

Get a flu shot and don't socialize when you're coming down with something or you know that others are. Save the Tweets of Outrage for other issues (e.g. pylons or wind turbines).

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