Why It’s Crucial to Avoid the ER If You Can
A doctor offers urgent coronavirus pandemic advice
Fever. Chills. Body aches. Runny nose. Cough. The classic symptoms of a viral illness. They are also symptoms of Covid-19. When we get sick — especially if we think we may have a serious illness the entire world is worried about — our gut instinct is to run to the doctor and seek medical attention. But for the majority of those with viral symptoms, this is the wrong thing to do. As the U.S. marches toward hospital surge capacity, we must focus attention on the worried well patient.
Managing the “worried well” patient during coronavirus may be the single most crucial issue facing our health system.
Who are the “worried well”?
The “worried well” is a loose term referring to those with mild illnesses who are better off getting care at home but tend to seek medical treatment at the first signs of symptoms. Primary care and emergency room providers are very familiar with this patient category.
These patients are not hypochondriacs. They often have a valid health problem and feel terrible. Fever, muscle aches, fear, and anxiety trigger their visit to the ER. Testing may verify an illness such as influenza or even Covid-19. But a positive test for Covid-19 does not change the management.
The “worried well” is a loose term referring to those with mild illnesses who are better off getting care at home but tend to seek medical treatment at the first signs of symptoms.
When a nonelderly patient without underlying medical conditions or respiratory distress has a viral illness, the recommendation will be home quarantine. Regardless of the test results, the management will be two weeks of home isolation and supportive measures such as fluids, rest, and acetaminophen.
The worried well need to understand: When we are sick, we do not always have to go to the doctor. Sometimes, Grandma’s recipe for hot tea with honey and two Tylenol suffice. Unfortunately, Covid-19 is a new…