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When nurses get sick, a culture of toughing it out can put patients at risk

A woman comes to the hospital lobby asking to visit a friend who has recently had surgery. The visitor is coughing heavily and appears to be sick. Do you let her in to see her friend? Most hospitals would say no; a well-meaning but sick friend or relative could have a devastating effect on an immunocompromised patient.

Meanwhile, a nurse arrives for his shift with the exact same cough as the sick visitor. Do you let him go to work, potentially treating the exact same immunocompromised patients you’re trying to protect?

According to a study published this July by The Journal of the American Medical Association, the answer is yes. [more]

Are your nurses getting their flu shots?  

More healthcare personnel (HCP) are getting their flu shots, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, but there are still large gaps in immunization. During the 2014-2015 flu season, 77% of HCPs were vaccinated against the flu, a 14% increase from the previous season. The highest rates of immunization—at 90.4%–was  with HCPs working in hospitals.

While the increase is a positive step, it was also revealed that only 75% of nonclinical personnel had received the vaccine, including food service workers, laundry workers, janitors, housekeeping staff, and maintenance staff. The numbers were even lower for aides and assistants, with only 64% immunized. [more]

Webcast: Deadly infections caused by GI scopes

You know that the Joint Commission and other regulatory agencies have standards that require your hospital to have a plan to reduce the risk of deadly infections and make sure your medical equipment is in good working order.

So why risk incurring costly lawsuits and fines—not to mention the possibility of destroying your hospital’s accreditation and reputation—if an improperly disinfected GI scope hcpro webcastcauses a patient to contract a life-threatening infection?

It’s happening right now to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle (read more here), where 11 people died after contracting deadly infections from improperly disinfected diagnostic scopes, and it could happen to your facility, too.

Let infection control experts Peggy Prinz Luebbert, MS, (MT)ASCP, CIC, CHSP, CBSPD, and Terry Micheels, MSN, RN, CIC, show you everything your organization needs to know to ensure proper GI scope disinfection and protect the lives of your patients.

Register for “Proper GI Scope Disinfection: How to Avoid Becoming a Statistic,” a 90-minute webcast that will cover the critical steps of high-level disinfection that must be met each and every day. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to ensure your organization complies with requirements set by The Joint Commission and CMS.

For more information or to register, check out the HCPro Marketplace, here.

Live webcast: Surgical Environment Compliance: Meet CMS and Joint Commission Requirements

Live webcast: Surgical Environment Compliance: Meet CMS and Joint Commission Requirements

Presented on Friday, May 8th, 2015 at 1:00 – 2:30 P.M (ET)

Presented by Steven A. MacArthur, and Jorge Sosa, CHFM, CHSP, CHC

This 90-minute live webcast will help accreditation and safety professionals get a handle on the unprecedented scrutiny being applied to the management of conditions in the operating room physical environment.  Join Steven A. MacArthur and Jorge Sosa, CHFM, CHSP, CHC, as they address the change in standards regulating humidity levels in operating rooms and the potential effects on equipment and supplies to ensure patient safety.

At the end of the program, participants will be able to:
1. Understand and apply the regulatory requirements as set forth by CMS and The Joint Commission
2. Use design specifications and other guidance
3. Recognize current vulnerabilities in your organization
4. Manage the survey process for the surgical environment now and in the future
5. Promote ongoing compliance

For more information or to register, please visit

The flu season, and flu shot debate, persists

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that flu activity is decreasing in many parts of the country, 47 states are still reporting widespread geographic influenza activity. The southern and southeastern parts of the country, along with New England and the Midwest, are seeing a decline in the number of flu cases, while populations in the Southwest and Northwest have seen an increase in activity. According to the CDC, more than 130 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed as of January 18, and state that there are sufficient vaccinations for those who have not yet received the flu shot.

Along with the flu, the debate rages on as to whether healthcare workers should be required to receive the vaccination. Last month, eight nurses at an Indiana hospital were fired for refusing the mandatory flu shots, causing both positive and negative reactions from the public and the healthcare community.

In a poll this month at, we asked readers whether or not nurses at their organizations are required to receive a flu shot. The results were almost evenly matched, with 58% saying flu shots are mandatory and 42% responding that the flu vaccination is optional.

How do you feel about mandatory flu shots? Do you agree with firing nurses who refuse, or do you feel that it is a right to refuse the vaccine? Weigh in on the issue in our comments section!

Joint Commission releases R3 report looking at CAUTI

The Joint Commission has just released a new R3 report examining the 2012 National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) related to catheter-associated urinary tract infections, or CAUTI.

CAUTI is the leading healthcare-associated infection, with roughly 450,000 cases reported in hospitals every year. The Joint Commission added a new NPSG, going into effect January 1, 2012, to require hospitals to minimize the risks for CAUTI through better processes and practices.

For more information on the R3 report, visit The Joint Commission’s website.

Research shows simple post-surgical step reduces infections

by Matt Phillion, for the AHAP blog

According to the latest edition of the Archive of Surgery, a basic bedside technique of gently probing a surgical incision to clean the area can result in significantly reduced rates of infection, Internal Medicine News reports.

According to the report, over a three year period, researchers assessed surgical site infections in 76 adults who underwent appendectomy for perforated appendicitis at one hospital. Only 3% of the patients who received the gentle probing contracted an infection, while 19% contracted infection in the control group. In addition, those patients who received the probing technique had their length of stay reduced.

Researchers theorized that allowing for drainage of the wound was the reason behind these better results, though they were unsure the precise reason as to why this practice cut down on infections.

Recognizing CAUTIs

Hospitals with a focus on providing safe patient care through evidence-based practices have been working to reduce preventable conditions such as central line-associated bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia for the past few years.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is defined as an inflammatory response of the urinary epithelium to invasion by a pathogen and can be divided into two forms:

Uncomplicated: Occurs in otherwise healthy community-dwelling women and produces characteristic symptoms such as dysuria (burning and pain with urination), suprapubic discomfort, and frequent urination.

Complicated: Occurs in patients with an abnormality of the urinary system or other health problem that compromises host defenses or treatment responses. [more]

California nurses union calls off strike about H1N1

Last week, the California Nurses Union (CNU/NNOC) reached a dramatic settlement that prevented a nurse strike and will establish a national standard on containing the spread of pandemics such as H1N1, also known as the “swine flu.”

Originally set to strike on October 30—over the issue of protecting nurses from the H1N1 virus—CNU/NNOC called off the strike on Tuesday, October 27. The strike would have involved more than 13,000 registered nurses in 32 hospitals in the San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) hospitals in California and Nevada.

The new agreement calls for the creation of a systemwide task force where CNA/NNOC RNs and hospital representatives will focus on the declaration of pandemic emergencies with the help of facility infection control teams. The task force will monitor the full implementation of federal, state, and local guidelines. They will also set up standards regarding checking the availability of proper safety equipment, communication and training policies for all hospital personnel, and consideration of off-site emergency triage and treatment.

Under the settlement, all CHW facilities need an employer agreement to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with those rules set in the CNA/NNOC contract. All CHW nurses will be provided the proper equipment and attire to prevent further spread of any virus, and facilities will provide each staff member with the proper training and information on communicable diseases to which they may have been exposed.

Forty-eight states have now reported widespread flu activity, and the death toll from the H1N1 virus in the United States has climbed to more than 1,000 cases, including more than 100 children. Thirty million doses of the vaccine have gone out to health departments, physician’s offices, and other providers, with hopes of delivering 120 million in the near future.

Does your facility provide staff members with education about pandemics? Do you think other states will follow California’s example? What are ways your facility helps prevent the spread of H1N1 virus?

To vaccine or not! The results are in…

In a recent poll question on and readers were asked whether they were going to get an H1N1 vaccination.

The results are in, and 55% of readers said they planned to get the vaccine, as opposed to 45% who said they would not.

On the StressedOutNurses Web site, 52% of readers said they would be getting the vaccine, while 18% said they had not yet decided.

What do you plan to do? Post your comment and tell us if you’ve received your H1N1 vaccine or not!