OHA Council on Quality issues flu vaccination challenge to OHA member hospitals

Posted on: 8/15/12

In an effort to make Oklahoma hospitals safer for patients, the OHA Council on Quality and Patient Safety is challenging hospitals to achieve a health care worker influenza vaccination rate of
90 percent or higher during the upcoming 2012-2013 flu season.

Influenza is a highly contagious disease that can be spread before symptoms appear and results in about 150,000 hospital admissions and 24,000 deaths annually. Hospitalized patients are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of influenza because their immune systems are often compromised by the illness that caused their admission or the treatments they are undergoing.

Vaccination of health care workers (HCWs) has been shown to prevent illness and death in patients, and reduce influenza infections and absenteeism among HCWs. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended annual vaccination of HCWs since 1981, only about half of HCWs in the U.S. are immunized annually.

In recent years, more and more hospitals and health care organizations are putting into place policies making seasonal influenza vaccinations mandatory for employees, affiliated medical staff, students, volunteers and contract workers as part of their commitment to patient safety. These policies often have resulted in vaccination rates above 90 percent.

For help in this effort, access the OHA “Improving Health Care Worker Influenza Vaccination Toolkit” at www.okoha.com/vaccinationtoolkit.

Hospitals that achieve a 90 percent employee vaccination rate by Dec. 31, 2012, will receive recognition in Hotline, as well as a statewide press release and a certificate that you can display in your hospital.

Several hospitals in Oklahoma have implemented a mandatory vaccination program that resulted in rates near 100 percent. They have said that before implementation, they had many concerns that did not come to fruition. A key was clear and consistent communication.

Another important reason for hospitals to assure a high rate of flu vaccination is that in 2013 hospitals will be required to report their health care worker influenza vaccination rates as a measure for CMS quality reporting. Once a measure is publicly reported, it becomes eligible for the value based purchasing program.

Download the toolkit today and plan now to meet the OHA 90 percent challenge.