UCLA Medical Center ER patient volume increases 43% during state flu influx

The emergency room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., treated more than 200 patients during one day last week, a nearly 43 percent increase from the ER's average of 140 patients a day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The jump in patient volume is largely due to an influx of flu cases, Wally Ghurabi, MD, medical director of UCLA-Santa Monica's ER, told the Times.  

Since October, 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California compared with three people during the same time last year, state health officials said Friday.

"Rates of influenza are even exceeding last year, and last year was one of the worst flu seasons in the last decade," said Randy Bergen, MD, clinical lead for the flu vaccine program for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

In California's Riverside and San Bernardino counties, ambulance services have seen significant strains due to an increase in flu calls, according to local health officials. ERs in Riverside County are overcrowded, leaving ambulances unable to leave for incoming 911 calls while waiting to unload patients at the hospital, said Jose Arballo Jr., spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Public Health.

California health officials are recommending the flu vaccine for everyone older than six months.

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