Doctors want people with a fever or cough to stay away from patients at the hospital this flu season.
Wednesday Akron Children’s Hospital announced visitor restrictions. The goal is to stop the spread of illnesses and keep patients safe.
University Hospitals also follows similar protocol during the winter months. Hand sanitizer, tissues and signs listing flu-like symptoms greet guests at the front of the hospital. Doctors hope the tools serve as a reminder to sick visitors.
“We’re really trying to protect our patients and our health care workers,” said Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Physician Claudia Hoyen.
Some hospitals are asking people to not visit if they have the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
“The patients here are already sick, and we don’t necessarily want them getting something when they’re in the hospital,” said Dr. Hoyen.
People inside hospitals are vulnerable and their immune systems are down.
“It can confuse a diagnosis if somebody is in the hospital and then they get a new fever,” said Dr. Hoyen.
Doctors said this time of year viruses spread fast.
“We’re seeing influenza, we’re seeing several other viruses, which include other respiratory viruses, notably the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and we’re seeing those in reasonable numbers,” said Akron Children’s Hospital Dr. John Bower.
A hospital is not the place to treat common colds.
“It is not going to provide you any more benefit and you may simply put other people at risk during that time,” said Dr. Bower.
Some hospitals, like Akron Children’s Hospital, also limit kids under the age of 12 from visiting certain sections. They cannot visit patients in neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care and hematology/oncology units. These units may also have stricter visitation guidelines covering the number of visitors allowed at any one time.
Doctors said younger children get RSV more often and it’s often tougher to detect.
“Viruses are very contagious. It’s quite easy to spread them without intending to do so,” said Dr. Bower.
Currently, the Cleveland Clinic does not have restrictions.
Hospitals that do have restrictions typically lift them when the flu season ends in the spring. Doctors want to remind people to wash their hands and get the flu shot.
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