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Severe flu season keeping emergency rooms busy

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BATON ROUGE - For weeks, health officials have been stressing how severe this flu season has been.

Emergency departments in Baton Rouge are admitting 300 percent more patients for flu cases this year than last. The increase is so high, ER’s are actually getting back-logged at times.

“We're trying to get to everyone as fast as we can, but in the emergency department, we have to take care of the true emergencies sooner rather than later,” said Dr. Thomas Jeider, with Baton Rouge General Hospital.

It’s no secret doctors are seeing hundreds more patients coming in with flu symptoms than normal.

“Whenever there is more volume it does put a strain on the entire emergency department,” Dr. Jeider said.

“That’s definitely one of the more challenging things we've dealt with over the past month or so,” added Dr. Stephen Hosea, with Our Lady of the Lake.

At Our Lady of the Lake, the ER department has rearranged its resources to handle the crowds.

“We moved a lot of our providers to the front end area of the ER where we have some rapid triage areas,” Dr. Hosea explained.

That way patients won't have to wait long to be treated.

“There were some drawn-out phases of that ER level of care that were maybe waiting for a bed in the hospital because the hospital was so packed,” Dr. Hosea said. “But overall, our ER operations continue to operate pretty efficiently.”

At Baton Rouge General, it's the same story. That’s why doctors are encouraging people sick with the flu and coughing or feeling achy to stay home if they can.

“Drink plenty of fluids, take Tylenol or MOTRIN to help with the aches,” Dr. Jeider said.

You can also call your primary physician.

“Let them help you with that decision-making, or go to urgent care,” Dr. Hosea added.

There are some flu symptoms that would require going to the emergency room. If someone is having trouble breathing, horrible chest pain or feel like they're going to pass out, doctors say don't hesitate to go to the ER.

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