The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new tool that could be helpful to medical office and public health clinic staff. The tool allows medical office staff to triage calls from patients with flu-like symptoms. Staff can use the tool to decide if their patient should begin taking antiviral medications prior to an office visit. This is important because influenza antiviral medications are most effective when taken within 24 to 48 hours of symptom onset. Medical triage by telephone can increase access to antivirals for patients who have already had symptoms for several days, as well as for patients unable to see a provider within the 48 hour window.
The “Medical Office Telephone Evaluation of Patients with Possible Influenza” tool is available in both Spanish and English and provides the user with an easy-to-follow flowchart. If a caller has flu-like symptoms they are assessed for being high-risk and/or having severe or progressive illness. High-risk patients are prioritized for treatment.
The tool provides CDC recommendations on both high-risk patients and antiviral drugs. The tool also provides a list of influenza symptoms for administrative staff.
This new tool aligns with other CDC influenza initiatives, particularly Flu on Call™, a preparedness initiative that establishes a national network of telephone triage lines for use during a severe pandemic. NACCHO has been a core project partner on the Flu on Call™ initiative since its outset in 2011.