Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

Letter From Chief of Staff: Influenza Activity

By Clement C. Yang, MD, Chief of Staff


Influenza activity at Cedars-Sinai is increasing, and activity in California is considered widespread by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please keep in mind the following during this year’s flu season:

  • Use droplet precautions for all patients with suspected or confirmed influenza, even pending test results. When outside their room, patients should wear a mask.
  • The Primary Seasonal Influenza Panel (FLRFLX) is the preferred diagnostic test; it tests for Influenza (A and B), RSV and rhinovirus. Sensitivity is high when performed on a nasopharyngeal (high nasal) swab. Improper swab technique (such as a lower nasal swab) may lead to false-negative results.
  • The rapid influenza EIA test performed in the ED has poor sensitivity and cannot rule out infection. Beginning today, the Microbiology lab will begin automatically performing PCR for inpatients with a negative rapid EIA test collected in the ED. This is done using the swab collected in the ED, avoiding the need to repeat a nasopharyngeal swab.
  • Treat all hospitalized or other high-risk patients promptly with antivirals (typically oseltamivir) when influenza is suspected or confirmed.
  • Avoid working while ill. Even with mild symptoms, healthcare workers can spread influenza to patients. Wearing a mask is not a substitute for staying home while ill.

The 2019 Influenza Guidance document (below) provides additional information on testing, treatment and infection-prevention measures.

2019 Influenza Guidance Sheet (PDF)   

As a reminder, all employees and medical staff must get their annual flu vaccination and wear a green "badge buddy" during flu season (Nov. 1—April 30). Medical staff can attest their vaccination status through CS-Link™ (an Inbox message was sent to all providers in October). Exceptions are only granted for those with a valid exemption granted through Employee Health Services.

Additional information can be found here:

Hospital Epidemiology Influenza Website

Los Angeles County Health Department

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Thank you all for your efforts in protecting our patients and staff during this flu season.