Archive for: November, 2011

Recommendations for healthcare personnel immunizations updated

By: November 29th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

For those responsible for ensuring compliance with healthcare worker immunizations, the CDC has issued a one-stop guideline.

Issued November 25, Immunization of Health-Care Personnel: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices updates and summarizes recommendations from Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC).

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APIC accepting 2012 film festival entries

By: November 29th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is now accepting entries for the film festival that will be showcased at its annual meeting in San Antonio, TX, June 4-6.

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Safety officer tip: Small practices hardest hit by bloodborne pathogens fines

By: November 29th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

A reader liked my post on OSHA citations of small medical practices, but thought that an analysis of the dollar amount of bloodborne pathogens fines would better ensure compliance by hitting practice owners in the pocketbook.

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National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 4-12

By: November 29th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), an observance that highlights the importance of continuing vaccinations during and after the holiday season, is scheduled for December 4-12.

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Weekly poll: Hand hygiene and glove use

By: November 28th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

A recently published study by researchers at the Royal Free Hospital, London found a significant drop off in hand hygiene compliance when gloves are used. Within your healthcare facility, how confident are you that staff members adhere to the guidelines of performing hand hygiene before and after using gloves? Take our OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.

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Ask the expert: TB skin tests and low risk facilities

By: November 23rd, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: We are located in a low risk area for TB occurrence and are not a “sick patient” facility. What does OSHA require for testing staff and volunteers for TB? Do they need to be tested yearly or just once?

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Nurses bear the brunt of abuse in emergency departments

By: November 23rd, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The latest results from a survey by the Emergency Nurses Association Institute for Emergency Nursing Research shows that over any seven-day period in 2010, 53% of nurses reported experiencing verbal abuse and 13% reported experiencing physical violence, according to HealthLeaders Media, November 14. Furthermore, these results are not much improved compared to a similar survey done in 2009.

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Requiring masks for healthcare workers

By: November 22nd, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The feature article in the November issue of Briefings on Infection Control looks at AHA’s mandatory flu shot policy that requires either influenza vaccination or wearing a mask in the presence of patients across healthcare settings during flu season for healthcare workers. Here is an excerpt of the article that examines considerations such as comfort, enforcement, and communication with patients for choosing to wear a flu mask as alternative to immunization.

Healthcare workers either need to get an influenza vac­cination or wear a mask when working with patients during flu season, according to a new American Hospital Association (AHA) policy.

That’s a necessary step to protect the safety of patients, says Nancy Foster, AHA’s vice president of quality and ­patient safety.

While a flu shot is preferable, wearing a mask is a way to minimize the transmission of droplets that can cause ­influenza, she says.

An uncomfortable option
But is mask-wearing practical?

“I won’t say it’s the most comfortable option. But the risk to patients is too great [not to require it],” Foster says.

Hospitals often start vaccinating workers with flu vaccine in September, and flu season can run as late as through April.

“You’re looking at months of wearing a mask,” says Libby Chinnes, RN, BSN, CIC, an independent infection control consultant with IC Solutions, LLC, based in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

The requirement to wear a mask may be an incentive for some healthcare workers to get a flu vaccination, Chinnes says. “If you wear a mask for very long, it gets hot and uncomfortable,” she says.

Enforcement a challenge
If hospitals are going to require masks for healthcare workers who decline the flu vaccine, they need to make that part of their policy, Chinnes says.

The hard part will be enforcement, she says, since workers may need to wear a mask for five or six months.

“Masking is a hassle for employees and can be problematic for hospitals to enforce,” says Deborah L. Wexler, MD, executive director of the ­Immunization Action Coalition in Saint Paul, MN.

Monitoring healthcare workers who must wear a mask because they haven’t had a flu shot is a challenge, agrees Peggy Prinz Luebbert, MS, MS(ASCP), CIC, CHSP, a consultant and owner of ­Healthcare ­Interventions in ­Omaha, NE, who works with healthcare ­organizations across the country.

Luebbert has worked with a couple of hospitals that have required masks and it does provide some motivation for workers to get a flu shot.

Healthcare workers are required to wear a mask as soon as they enter the facility, from October 1 to March 1, she says.

The healthcare workers are required to indicate on their identification badge whether they have had a flu vaccination or must wear a mask, she says. For instance, a blue dot indicates the worker has had a flu shot, while a red dot indicates they have not had it.

Luebbert admits it is like wearing a scarlet letter for those who don’t get a flu shot.

The masks themselves are “awful,” she says. “The employees hate it. It’s uncomfortable and the patients can’t see your face. And the patients hate it because they can’t see the worker’s expression.”

It must be the responsibility of the employee’s manager to monitor workers to ensure they are wearing their mask, Luebbert says. Infection preventionists cannot be everywhere in a hospital to monitor all workers.

Communicate with patients
Hospitals should be prepared for questions from patients and family members who may wonder why a worker is wearing a mask when providing care, says Chinnes.

“I think hospitals should come up with some kind of script so a healthcare worker can say, ‘This is why I’m wearing a mask,’ ” she says. Hospitals don’t want patients to think they are allowing a worker who is sick to take care of them.

Luebbert agrees that hospitals need to communicate to patients and family members why workers are wearing a mask. One hospital put up a poster in its lobby advising people that both visitors and employees who had not been vaccinated against the flu must wear a mask during flu season, she says.

Briefings on Infection Control subscribers can read more from the November issue by clicking here.

The flu, it’s a social thing

By: November 22nd, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Social determinants such as lack of paid sick leave contributed to higher risk for certain population groups in the U.S. during the H1N1 pandemic, according to an article appearing in the January 2012 issue of American Journal of Public Health.

“The Impact of Workplace Policies and Other Social Factors on Self-Reported Influenza-Like Illness Incidence During the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic” surveyed 2,079 U.S. adults and discovered a higher incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) related to workplace policies, such as access to paid sick leave. Structural factors, such as number of children and crowding in the household was also related to ILI.

“Even after controlling for income and education, Hispanic ethnicity was related to a greater risk of influenza-like illness attributable to social determinants,” according to the study.

The study concludes:  “Federal mandates for sick leave could have significant health impacts by reducing morbidity from [influenza-like illness], especially in Hispanics.”

CDC tracking how hospitals use antibiotics

By: November 22nd, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The CDC is expanding its antibiotic use tracking capabilities.

A new antibiotic electronic tracking system will allow hospitals to monitor antibiotic use which should lead to better decisions about how to improve use, and compare use to other hospitals, according to a  November 14 news release.

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Safety officer tip: Small practices not immune to OSHA citations

By: November 21st, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Do you hear the excuse from management that your practice is too small to worry about OSHA compliance? Or do you believe that practice size gives you immunity from citations? If you do, you’re wrong—look at the numbers.

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Weekly poll: Integrating facility, patient and worker safety

By: November 21st, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The concept that safety is safety, whether it is fire safety for the building, patient safety, or occupational safety for staff, has been around for awhile, and a recent study shows that patient safety outcomes have been associated with nurse safety on the care unit.  How integrated are the facility, patient, and worker safety functions in your healthcare facility? Take our OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.

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