[to top of second column]
Stanford Hospitals and Clinics and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital share an ER, and recently tested a drive-through system for flu patients in a parking ramp. Forty Red Cross volunteers played the parts of actual patients who sought emergency care in April and May, when swine flu first emerged.
Doctors in the drive-through drill correctly "admitted" the six volunteers who needed to be hospitalized, and correctly sent the 34 others home, said Dr. Eric Weiss, medical director of disaster planning for the hospitals.
The drive-through shaved 80 minutes off the typical two-hour wait in the regular emergency room. The plan is to put it into action whenever swine flu patients swamp the ER.
It works like this:
A nurse near the ER stops cars and sends appropriate cases to the drive-through. Signs tell families to tune the radio to a public broadcasting station that describes what happens next.
"The patient's automobile acts as a self-contained isolation compartment, a moving exam room," Weiss said. "The hoods of the cars make excellent places to write notes," and medical records are slid under the windshield wipers.
Through the car window, a doctor uses a device that clips on a finger to measure blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates. Fingerstick blood tests can be done.
In nearby tents, diabetics can get a urine test for blood sugar, and heart patients can get an EKG. Portable X-rays are available, too. The last stop has a pharmacy to get vaccine, medicines or a prescription to fill.
Weiss has a grant to develop a handout of the plan to give to other hospitals and recently described it at a California Hospital Association meeting.
All hospitals must find ways to handle the crush of swine flu patients, Weiss said.
"When all of these people start showing up in emergency departments, we're going to lose our safety net pretty quickly," he said. "We can't have our ERs completely overwhelmed with patients with infectious diseases."
On the Net:
Flu advice: http://www.flu.gov/
Flu versus colds:
Stanford's drive-through drill
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Recent articles
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor