Joint Commission R3 Report Explains New Flu Vaccine Requirements

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The Joint Commission has released an R3 Report, a complimentary publication that provides detailed information, about a July 1, 2012, requirement that all Joint Commission accredited health care organizations establish an annual influenza vaccination program for licensed independent practitioners and staff. Although vaccination is the single most effective method for preventing influenza deaths and illnesses, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources reports that vaccination rates for healthcare professionals remains below 60 percent.

The R3 Report 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 expands the vaccination standard to include the ambulatory care, behavioral healthcare, home care, laboratory, and office-based surgery accreditation programs.

The R3 Report provides information on the elements of performance for the vaccination standard that goes into effect July 1, 2012, as well as specifics about three of the elements of performance that will be phased in by July 1, 2013 for certain types of organizations. In addition, the R3 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 standard will require accredited healthcare organizations to set incremental goals for meeting a 90 percent coverage rate by 2020. Organizations also will be required to measure and improve vaccination rates for staff. The Joint Commission 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,” says Kelly L. Podgorny, DNP, MS, CPHQ, RN, project director in the Standards and Survey Methods Department, Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation, at the Joint Commission.

To view the R3 Report on the new infection control standard related to influenza vaccination programs, visit http://www.jointcommission.org/r3_issue3/

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