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Doctors Adapt To Keep Patients Away From Flu

Robbie Owens Robbie Owens
Robbie grew up in northeast Texas, in a tiny town where her fami...
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GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) - Pam Sandlin of Sachse was feeling just fine when she visited her doctor’s office recently for a routine checkup. But she soon found an unwelcome surprise in the waiting room. “It was packed,” said Sandlin. “People coughing, people wearing masks.”

Although she had already gotten her flu shot, and tried to avoid the crowd, the flu bug bit her anyway, a couple of days later. “Thursday morning, [I] woke up just not feeling good, shoulders aching,” she said. “I thought, I’m getting sick, I think I’m getting the flu!”

Sandlin is convinced that she picked up the bug in the doctor’s office waiting room. As the flu continues its ferocious spread, doctors across North Texas are now crafting new policies to protect patients. “When patients come in and they check in at the front, and we suspect that they have the flu, we immediately put a mask on them,” said Dr. Bryan Wasson, an Irving internal medicine specialist. “The idea behind that is to prevent those droplets from being spread from one person to another.”

Some doctors are even recommending that healthy patients re-schedule routine visits until the flu outbreak is over. “As long as they’re healthy, and it’s just a well check, and they don’t have any acute concerns, we should encourage those patients, if they can, to delay their well office visit in order to avoid exposure to the flu,” said Dr. Jane Sadler, a Garland family practice physician.

Dr. Sadler said that postponing non-critical visits actually serves a dual purpose. “We have a volume load here that’s been tremendous,” she said, “and we would love to be able to have that patient slot for a sick patient.”

And it is a good way to avoid becoming one of those sick patients. “I would probably wait if I had known,” said Sandlin. “Yeah, I would have waited.”

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