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CDC Updates Guidance on Two Public Health Crises

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The CDC has issued two key recommendations: one concerning discharge planning for patients who have been hospitalized for vaping-related lung injuries and the other regarding treatment for patients at high risk for contracting the flu.

Recent data reveal patients who are hospitalized with vaping-associated lung injury may be more likely to be rehospitalized or even die after first discharge. Thus, the CDC recommends clinicians ensure these patients are clinically stable at least 24-48 hours before discharge. Further, the agency recommends these patients follow up with an outpatient provider within 48 hours of discharge for additional evaluation.

On the same day it issued discharge planning guidance, the CDC released another advisory, this one designed to reiterate the severity and unusual duration of the current flu season, who needs treatment the most, and what that treatment regimen should include.

“Early treatment with antiviral medications is recommended for hospitalized patients and high-risk outpatients, including children younger than [age] 2 years,” the agency wrote. “Clinicians should continue efforts to vaccinate patients for as long as influenza viruses are circulating, and promptly start antiviral treatment of severely ill and high-risk patients with suspected influenza without waiting for laboratory confirmation.”

Although vaping-related lung injuries remain a concern, there has been some good news. In November 2019, federal officials announced progress in narrowing the culprit rogue elements causing these injuries. By December, the CDC released more results from this ongoing investigation while acknowledging the problem of readmissions and post-discharge mortality.

In the upcoming March issue of ED Management, author Dorothy Brooks will report on the intersection of flu season and vaping-associated lung injuries. Because symptoms can be similar, Brooks will speak to experts about how frontline providers can ensure they do not mistake the flu for a case of vaping-associated lung injury or vice versa.

Brooks also will interview clinicians who work at Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee, a facility that sounded the alarm early about vaping-related lung injuries. Staff will provide an update on the number of vaping and flu cases they see daily, along with details about how they are differentiating the two.

For a detailed overview of the 2019-2020 flu season, click here.