Doctors are treating flu over the phone to reduce public exposure

The particularly bad flu season has some doctors treating it over the phone to reduce the risk of spreading it in the office.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Some doctors want to help keep others from getting sick by treating patients with flu-like symptoms over the phone because the virus is so contagious.

"They don't have a wait. They don't have to come out ill in the cold,” Dr. Jay Holland said. 

At Hillcrest Family Clinic, Dr. Jay Holland is seeing patients in an unusual way.

"We felt like the risk this year was pretty significant that people were very contagious,” Dr. Holland said.

He has asked people with symptoms of the flu to not come in because he says proving you have the flu is not worth the risk of getting others sick.

"We finally quit testing,” he said. "If we have all the symptoms, fever chills headache body ache and cough, that's enough for me to feel like we ought to treat."

Because the flu is airborne, keeping patients with flu-like symptoms out of places like the waiting room helps keeps other patients from getting it.

"This is a very small place. It's very easy, just cough and sneeze,” Registered Nurse Terry Hannon said.

Hannon takes the phone calls from sick patients, and she will usually prescribe them Tamiflu if they have all the symptoms.

"A lot of them don't want to come in,” Hannon said. "It just cuts down on the number of people who come in contact with any kind of virus."

Dr. Holland said this method has helped keep his workers from contracting the flu.

"The other fear I have is that if I get infected then I'm not available for my other patients,” he said. “I think it’s dangerous. It’s a significant disease so I’m trying to control this.”

But This isn't the first time Dr. Holland has stopped seeing flu patients in his office. Hannon said Dr. Holland has done this for almost 17 years.

"We've had one or two patients end up in the emergency room in the last two months,” Dr. Holland said.

Dr. Holland said he still does see flu patients that are at high risk. Usually, anyone over the age of 65 is seen because he wants to make sure it does not develop into pneumonia.

“If they’re not improving then we want them to come in,” he said.

Hannon said she’s been prescribing Tamiflu to about five to ten people once a day since December.

Katrina Dupins with UAMS said one doctor also does sometimes treat patients over the phone. She said Dr. Vyas is not blanket telling patients to stay home, but when necessary they will call in their prescription.

© 2018 KTHV-TV


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