Flu cases overwhelm doctors

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Doctors with Forsyth and Kernersville Medical Center say going to the emergency room is not the cheapest or most efficient way to get treated for the flu.

In the past week, the emergency departments at the two hospitals have seen a 10% spike in the number of patients coming in with flu or flu-like symptoms.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is also reporting a spike in patients with flu or flu-like symptoms visiting the emergency room.

Doctors say a visit to the emergency department will likely cost 3 to 4 times more than visit to an Urgent Care, Prime Care or your family doctor and going somewhere other than the emergency room likely won't take as long.

Dr. Paul Horton at Kernersville Medical Center says added patients slow down the emergency room .

"Urgent Care is probably going to be faster and cheaper and will provide same benefit for this type of illness."

Horton says once people have the flu there isn't much that can be done.

"For something like the flu, where our interventions are limited at best, the emergency department is probably not the most efficient choice."

Bottom line, doctors say to avoid having to wait anywhere for a doctor's help with the flu the best choice is to get vaccinated.
Dr. Horton says part of the reason doctor's offices and emergency rooms are busy is because people haven't gotten vaccinated.

"It's early flu.  I think the reason it's gotten so bad so fast, I think a lot of people haven't gotten a flu shot because the last several years have been so light so people think oh the flu not so bad," says Horton.

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