Get Your Office Ready for Flu Season
Flu season can be an extremely busy time for your practice. Managing patients efficiently can be helpful. Keep in mind the greatest clinical benefit of antiviral therapy is seen when treatment is started early – especially within 48 hours of illness onset,1 so it’s important to encourage symptomatic patients to come in right away.
Here are a few things to help you and your staff prepare for the flu:
Follow the latest flu outbreaks and see if influenza is circulating in your area.
Office preparation steps
These tips can help you protect your practice this flu season. Don't forget to use the Flu Tracker to determine the flu level in your area.
1. Refresh diagnostic skills.
Promote influenza awareness in your practice to ensure that your staff recognizes the signs of flu. Rapid recognition is essential in managing influenza with antiviral therapy.2,3 Often, the onset of influenza is sudden: fever, muscle aches, chills, and extreme tiredness are common symptoms and help differentiate influenza from other common respiratory viral infections, such as a cold.4
2. Make time for telephone triage.
Develop a practice protocol for telephone triage that will enable your office to:
- Prioritize visits for patients by severity of illness.
- Identify patients who are candidates for antiviral therapy.
- Assess if patients are taking over-the-counter medications for symptomatic relief.
3. Plan for prompt initiation of treatment.
Establish over the phone if a patient may be an appropriate candidate for antiviral treatment. Since early initiation is essential for treating influenza with antivirals, it is important to see the patient as soon as possible.2,3
Tamiflu is indicated for the treatment of acute, uncomplicated illness due to influenza infection in patients 2 weeks of age and older who have been symptomatic for no more than 2 days. Tamiflu is also indicated for the prophylaxis of influenza in patients 1 year and older
- Efficacy of Tamiflu in patients who begin treatment after 48 hours of symptoms has not been established
- Tamiflu is not a substitute for early and annual influenza vaccination
- There is no evidence for efficacy of Tamiflu in any illness caused by agents other than influenza viruses types A and B
- Influenza viruses change over time. Emergence of resistance mutations could decrease drug effectiveness. Prescribers should consider available information on influenza drug susceptibility patterns and treatment effects when deciding whether to use Tamiflu
Serious Skin/Hypersensitivity Reactions
- Tamiflu is contraindicated in patients who have had severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis or serious skin reactions such as toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and erythema multiforme to any component of Tamiflu
- In postmarketing experience, cases of anaphylaxis and serious skin reactions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and erythema multiforme, have been reported with Tamiflu. Tamiflu should be stopped and appropriate treatment instituted if an allergic-like reaction occurs or is suspected
- Influenza can be associated with a variety of neurologic and behavioral symptoms, which can include events such as hallucinations, delirium and abnormal behavior, in some cases resulting in fatal outcomes. These events may occur in the setting of encephalitis or encephalopathy but can occur without obvious severe disease
- Closely monitor patients with influenza for signs of abnormal behavior. If neuropsychiatric symptoms occur, evaluate the risks and benefits of continuing treatment for each patient
- Serious bacterial infections may begin with influenza-like symptoms or may coexist with or occur as complications during the course of influenza. Tamiflu has not been shown to prevent such complications
Limitations of Populations Studied
- Efficacy of Tamiflu in the treatment of influenza in patients with chronic cardiac disease and/or respiratory disease has not been established. No information is available regarding treatment of influenza in patients with any medical condition sufficiently severe or unstable to be considered at imminent risk of requiring hospitalization
- Efficacy of Tamiflu for treatment or prophylaxis of influenza has not been established in immunocompromised patients
Concurrent Use with Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine
- The concurrent use of Tamiflu with live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) intranasal has not been evaluated. However, because of the potential for interference between these products, LAIV should not be administered within 2 weeks before or 48 hours after administration of Tamiflu, unless medically indicated
Most Common Adverse Reactions
- Adverse events that occurred more frequently in patients treated with Tamiflu than in patients taking placebo (frequency ≥ 2%) across clinical trials were nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, ear disorder, and diarrhea
- The safety profile observed in pediatric patients 2 weeks to less than 1 year of age was consistent with the established safety profile of subjects aged 1 year and above, with vomiting, diarrhea and diaper rash being the most frequently reported adverse reactions
For additional important safety information, please see Tamiflu full prescribing information at www.tamiflu.com.
You are encouraged to report side effects to Genentech by calling 1-888-835-2555 or to the FDA by visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch or calling 1-800-FDA-1088.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza Antiviral Medications: Summary for Clinicians. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/summary-clinicians.htm. Updated September 4, 2014. Accessed October 2, 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza symptoms and the Role of Laboratory Diagnostics. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/labrolesprocedures.htm. Updated December 9, 2011. Accessed October 2, 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rapid Diagnostic Testing for Influenza: Information for Health Care Professionals. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/rapidclin.htm. Updated August 27, 2013. Accessed October 2, 2014.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Is It a Cold or the Flu? http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/Flu/Documents/sick.pdf. Updated August 2014. Accessed October 2, 2014.
- Whitley RJ, Hayden FG, Reisinger KS, et al. Oral oseltamivir treatment of influenza in children. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001;20:127-133.