Physicians Report Flu Activity Exceeds Prior Years
January 23, 2013 - In an survey conducted of more than 2,400 U.S. physicians this past week by MDLinx, 72.6 percent of respondents reported experiencing a higher volume of flu symptoms in their patients than normal for this time of the season; nearly a quarter (22.6 percent) reported more patients at this point in the season than at any point in their medical careers.
Just over 70 percent of the pediatricians surveyed reported their flu patient volume as higher than normal, and 43 percent reported experiencing shortages of vaccine in their practice. Additionally, 46.2 percent said they had reports from their patients of an inability to fill prescriptions for the popular antiviral medicines.
MDLinx, a web property of M3 USA, is the nation's leading specialty physician portal.
"Doctors in each region of the U.S. reported above-average numbers of patients and severity of symptoms for this point in the season," said Aki Tomaru, president of M3 USA. "Shortages of antivirals were most severe in the Northeast, with 45 percent of doctors reporting patients complaining of an inability to fulfill antiviral prescriptions." The survey, conducted January 15-19, polled 2,430 practicing U.S. physicians in the areas of family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, general practice, and emergency medicine.
Emergency physicians also reported high volumes, with 80.5 percent reporting more patients than usual for this time on the season, and 30.5 percent reporting the highest in their experience. "Very aggressive onset and early arrival," said one. "This year, it spreads faster and hits harder than usual," said another emergency doctor.
Pediatricians seemed to be particularly hard hit, with 43 percent reporting vaccine shortages in their practices. One New York doctor said the public health emergency declared there, which allowed pharmacists to administer vaccines to children, has been problematic. "The governor allowed pharmacists to give vaccines to little children, but the pharmacists are all scared to do so and asking us for verbal okays to give the vaccine," said the pediatrician. "We are being swamped with requests to okay giving vaccines to patients whom we have not seen."
MDLinx (www.mdlinx.com) is an information tool used by busy physicians and healthcare professionals to stay up to date with the latest research in the medical field, sourced from leading news media and more than 1,300 peer-reviewed journals in 35 specialties. MDLinx is a web property of M3 USA, http://usa.m3.com, which offers information solutions to healthcare providers and industry.
Source: MDLinx/M3 USA