Hospitals experience increase in patients as shortage of medication makes it more difficult to treat illnesses

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:08 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Hospitals are experiencing an increase in people suffering illnesses as the country deals with a shortage of medication.

Experts said they’re seeing more people in the hospital with COVID-19 cases and the flu, but there’s isn’t enough supply for medication like Tamiflu.

The holiday season is the peak of illnesses since people are having more work and family gathering without masks.

As a result, Medical Director of In-Patient Medicine at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center, Dr. Marc Elieson, said in Texas, we have 28,000 hospitalized flu cases compared to the 500 last year.

“Now that people have gone back to normal, people aren’t wearing masks, people are traveling a lot more, it has quickly spread,” said Dr. Elieson.

Dr. Elieson said it’s common that patients are sick more this time of the year as people gather during the holidays.

“It makes people run down, it makes them weak, they lose their appetite, it makes them not eat. In that state, they’re more susceptible to other infections or other disease processes,” said Elieson.

Elieson said these are a few of the consequences patients are seeing who are hospitalized with the omicron COVID-19 variant.

“So, then they get hospitalized for, basically, the dwindles for getting run down. It doesn’t mean they’re less sick. It’s just not the same disease where we were seeing lots of respiratory disease with the earlier version of covid,” said Elieson.

Dr. Elieson said although hospitalized COVID-19 cases are steady, he’s more concerned about the jump in hospitalized flu cases.

“I don’t think we’ve had as bad of a year with flu like this since 2009, which was the H1N1 or swine flu epidemic,” said Dr. Elieson.

But what makes matters worse, there a shortage in Tamiflu, a vital medication to fight the infection.

“Like any manufacture of any product, they try to anticipate the demand. They try to make enough of the drug to meet the demand but not too much, they’re just sitting on shelves and not being bought. So, with any manufacture, any medication, sometimes they can misjudge the season. I don’t think anyone predicted that we would have a flu season as severe as this one,” said Elieson.

But if you can’t get your hands on the medication, Dr. Elieson said to go back to the basics.

“Wash your hands, wearing masks, social distancing. If you are sick and know others are sick, avoid each other. Stay home when you’re sick. Don’t share what you got with others, don’t let them share it with you,” said Elieson.

Elieson wants to make clear the shortage of Tamiflu specifically affects people who are prescribed the drug, like those with severe lung disease and asthma.

Since there’s a shortage, he highly recommends getting rid of the mindset that things are “back to normal” since the pandemic.