• More Than 700,000 Flu-Like Illnesses: Well-child Aand Vaccine Visits Linked

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    New research shows that well-child doctor appointments for annual exams and vaccinations are associated with an increased risk of flu-like illnesses in children and family members within two weeks of the visit. This risk translates to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses each year, costing more than $490 million annually. For children who are healthy, visits to the doctor's office for annual exams and vaccinations are associated with an increased risk of flu-like illness in the children and their family members within two weeks of the visit. These so-called “well-child” visits translate into more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses a year, which cost in excess of $490 million per year, according to a new study.

    “Well child visits are critically important. However, our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals should devote more attention to reducing the risk of spreading infections in waiting rooms and clinics. Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by healthcare professionals, patients, and their families,” said Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study.

    Researchers from the University of Iowa used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the healthcare trends of 84,595 families collected from 1996-2008. Included in the analysis were demographic, office-based, emergency room, and outpatient cases records. After controlling for factors, such as the presence of other children, insurance, and demographics, the authors found that well-child visits for children younger than six years old increased the probability of a flu-like illness in these children or their families …

    First, be sure the doctor and nurses are washing their hands or using a hand sanitizer between patients (most do, but the sink isn't always in the exam room, so it's a good idea to ask the pediatrician before the exam begins). Make sure you wash your and your child's hands (or use hand sanitizer), too, after you touch the toys in the waiting room, and after you leave the exam room. Some offices have separate waiting areas for sick children — and that could help reduce the spread of germs. If your pediatrician's office doesn't have separate waiting areas, it doesn't hurt to ask if they'd consider a change to that kind of set up.

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