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Commission updates provider flu vaccine guidelines

Sunday June 10, 2012
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The Joint Commission has released a complimentary publication that provides detailed information about a July 1 requirement for all commission-accredited healthcare organizations to establish an annual influenza vaccination program for licensed independent practitioners and staff.

Although vaccination is the most effective method for preventing influenza deaths and illnesses, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources has reported that vaccination rates for healthcare professionals remains below 60%, according to a Joint Commission news release.

The R3 Report (www.jointcommission.org/r3_issue3/) is designed to give accredited organizations a deeper understanding of the accreditation requirements that strengthen existing requirements for hospitals, critical access hospitals and long term care organizations; and expand the vaccination standard to include the ambulatory care, behavioral healthcare, home care, laboratory and office-based surgery accreditation programs.

The report provides information on the elements of performance for the vaccination standard that goes into effect July 1 and specifics about three elements of performance that will be phased in a year later for certain types of organizations. In addition, the report provides the rationale for the standard, reference information, results of feedback from the field and outstanding issues related to performance measures for vaccination rates.

In addition to establishing a vaccination program, the Joint Commission standard will require accredited healthcare organizations to set incremental goals for meeting a 90% coverage rate by 2020. Organizations also will be required to measure and improve vaccination rates for staff. The standard will not mandate influenza vaccination for staff as a condition of accreditation.

"Increasing flu vaccination rates for healthcare workers is important not only to help protect themselves, but also to reduce the risk of flu infection for patients or individuals served," Kelly L. Podgorny, RN, MS, DNP, CPHQ, project director of the Standards and Survey Methods Department of The Joint Commissionís Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation, said in the news release.

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