This influenza immunization season may be one of the most challenging for the nation’s hospitals as they face a new requirement to track every employee, licensed practitioner, student and volunteer.
Beginning in January 2013, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require hospitals to report their influenza immunization rates based on a standard measure. The information will be available to the public through the website, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.
The measure, which was certified by the National Quality Forum, counts employees, licensed independent practitioners (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) and students/trainees/and volunteers. Hospitals will report the percentage that received the vaccine, declined, or received religious or other exemptions. If an employee doesn’t receive the shot but doesn’t actively decline vaccination, they are included among the “unknown.”
The new measure will enable hospitals to compare their vaccination rates with other hospitals in their region or of a similar size. It also becomes one of several quality measures that consumers can use when selecting a hospital.
“The infection control and occupational health people will be under a certain amount of pressure because this will be publicly released data,” says William Schaffner, MD, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
At the same time, public reporting may bring greater clout and resources to both infection control and employee health, he says.
– Michele Marill