Saturday, October 28, 2006

Protect your patients by getting a flu shot

The first few flu cases have been reported in Connecticut, so now is the time for healthcare workers –especially those that provide direct care to patients –to get flu shots.

“We spend a lot of time talking about putting our patients first,” said Mary Bylone, RN, Assistant Vice President of Patient Care Services and Patient Safety Officer at Backus. “Getting a flu shot is a fundamental way to do just that.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all healthcare workers receive annual flu vaccinations because they help prevent death and severe illness among patients. Despite this, only 36-40 percent of healthcare workers take the time to get flu shots, according to the CDC.

At Backus, the percentage seems to be higher, but there remains room for improvement. Faith Coleman, RN, Employee Health Nurse at Backus, reports she has already administered 800 vaccinations, and the Hospital still has 400 shots remaining.

“Protect yourself, your patients, your family and co-workers by getting vaccinated,” Ms. Coleman said.

Peter Shea, MD, Medical Director at Backus, said vaccinating staff is a key way to improve patient safety, and unlike more complex safety initiatives, it only takes a few moments of your time.

Robin Heard, RN, Coordinator of Epidemiology at Backus, said there are many reasons why healthcare workers choose not to get vaccinated, and most of these decisions are based on misconceptions. They include:

? Concern about side effects. Some people think that the shot will make them sick, but the shot does not cause influenza, according to the CDC. The most common side effect is mild soreness of the arm.
? “I don’t need a flu shot.” Wrong. The flu can cause serious illness and death even in young, healthy people. Also, you put patients at risk by not getting a shot.

Anyone with suggestions to help Backus improve patient safety, can call Ms. Bylone at ext. 2771 or Joe Hughes, Director of Quality Improvement, at ext. 2345.


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