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DOH and CMS Provide Guidance to Manage Influx of Patients During H1N1 Outbreak

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The Department of Health (DOH) issued guidance to hospital chief executive officers of facilities that are managing a large number of people who are presenting to the emergency department (ED) with concerns about Novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu). The guidance discusses acceptable options to ease the volume of patients presenting to the ED, while still meeting Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requirements.

The guidance includes care for people who have presented to the ED for care, and for hospitals that are seeing a large number of people who have no symptoms or chief complaint but are worried about swine flu.

DOH indicates that a hospital can, at some location before the person reaches the ED, post signs or staff that direct non-ill people who would like or need information about the flu to another site on campus that would not require medical screening, establishment of a medical record, or logging in. This location could serve as an education or information center to ease the public’s concerns about H1N1 and may reduce the volume of patients entering the ED. Contact: Christopher Smith

Published June 1, 2009