‘Why Did My Child Not Receive A Flu Test at The Urgent Care Center?’
A pediatrician explains the reasons for when a test is and isn’t given
Our Urgent Care Centers are full right now.
The Fort Worth Urgent Care Center staff is seeing volumes in the 300s on a regular basis. Mansfield and Alliance UCC locations are seeing in the hundreds with the Southlake location seeing 60 to 90 patients regularly. Each site is seeing an increased volume, which is typical for the flu season.
With that many children visiting the Urgent Care Centers, not all children are tested for the flu during their time at the Urgent Care Center.
So why are some children tested and some not being tested? There are a variety of medically sound reasons:
Currently, there is a national shortage on flu tests and stock is on backorder. The flu testing stock at each clinic is all the staff has left at this time.
The staff follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on testing and treatment of the flu which is the following:
Children less than 2 years of age, should be treated for influenza. Additionally, any child at high risk from complications from the flu should be treated. Children with any of the following medical conditions are at high risk of complications such as pneumonia, central nervous system complications, exacerbation of chronic pulmonary diseases, and carditis.
b. Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
c. Chronic lung disease
d. Heart disease
e. Blood disorders
f. Endocrine disorders
g. Kidney disorders
h. Liver disorders
i. Metabolic disorders
j. Weakened immune system due to disease or medication
k. Children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
“We have a finite number of flu tests and a finite amount of Oseltamivir which is the drug of choice for flu treatment,” said Parul Martin, M.D., medical director of Urgent Care Services. “As a result, the provider will determine if your patient has the flu by clinical criteria alone such as history and exam more often than a flu test. Additionally, the flu test is not always accurate. For example, I have had patients have flu exposure and flu symptoms, and have a negative flu test.”
If your child is healthy without the above listed medical conditions, the flu is self-limiting and does not require treatment. Bring your child in if he or she is having breathing difficulty, is not eating and drinking and is not urinating normally, looks sick when they do not have a fever or their fever has lasted longer than three to five days.
The best treatment for a healthy child that has the flu is not prescription medicines, but rather good old fashion TLC: rest, fluids, over the counter cough and cold medicines and Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen for the body aches, sore throat and headaches. Over the counter cough and cold medicines are only recommended for children 6 years of age and over.
“There’s a myth out in the community that fever will cause brain damage. This is not true,” Dr. Martin said. “Fever is our best friend and is the body’s natural defense mechanism. Allow the body to heal itself when your child has the fever. Do not treat the fever but rather treat the symptoms such as headache, decreased appetite or discomfort. Allow the fever to help fight the infection.”
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