Are you interested in saving a few lives? If your aspirations are less lofty, what about improving your outcomes?
You can accomplish either or both of these objectives by gearing up for flu season if you haven’t already. Since it is officially flu season, the OASIS dataset questions about the flu will no longer be answered as N/A on admission assessments.
Last year, everyone got excited about H1N1 flu. There was good reason to do so but the threat to our patients was less than that of the regular flu. It seems that elderly people had some resistance related to a 1950’s flu epidemic. This year, the flu shot combines protection against the ‘regular’ flu as well as H1N1 eliminating the need for two injections. How easy is that?
Each year between 30,000 and 40,000 deaths occur as the result of the seasonal flu. The overwhelming majority of these deaths occur in the elderly. Our Medicare patients can receive the flu vaccine at no out of pocket cost. If you have patients who have to pay for flu vaccines, be aware that the cost of a flu shot is less than one trip to the drug store to buy Nyquil, Advil, chicken soup, Gatorade, saltines, etc.
So get busy! If your agency does not administer the flu vaccine, encourage your patients to find someone who does. Get a list of providers. It may be as simple as a trip to the local Walgreens. And don’t stop with patients. Encourage family members who reside with your elderly patients to be vaccinated as well.
Me? I think it is cool to be able to offer immunity. It kind of makes me feel like a federal agent.