Physicians use telemedicine to prevent spread of flu

Physicians in Tennessee, where the flu has been at epidemic levels for the past two weeks, are beginning to diagnose influenza over the phone to prevent the spread of infection, according to ABC News.

It is easy for physicians to diagnose the flu over the phone because patients displaying flu-like symptoms have more than a 90 percent chance of actually being sick with influenza, William Schaffner, MD, told ABC. Dr. Schaffner is chair of preventive medicine at Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Plus, rapid influenza tests produce false negatives in adults about 25 percent of the time, according to the report. By using telemedicine for flu diagnosis, it saves the cost of the test and a physician appointment.

Physicians prescribe antiviral medicine over the phone and advise a family member pick it up for the sick patient.

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