Friday, August 12, 2011

Quote of the day

Photo: Iowa Medical Society
There's an article in today's Baltimore Sun on influenza vaccination of healthcare workers. What a piece of work! Here's a quote from the chief medical officer of a large health system in the Maryland/DC area:
 "If you look at data on how many people die in this country from influenza, it overwhelms all other hospital-acquired infections in numbers, and you couple that with the voluntary vaccination programs that weren't successful in getting 98 to 100 percent of employees, and this becomes an argument for a mandatory policy."

Let's examine the data. According to CDC, it is estimated that there are about 100,000 deaths due to hospital-acquired infections in the US. Also, according to CDC, on average, 25,000 persons in the US die from influenza each year. And it's important to consider that the vast majority of influenza cases are not acquired in the hospital. So what in the world is the CMO talking about? Most intelligent people who read this article would conclude that influenza kills more inpatients than all other hospital-acquired infections, yet that is absurd. Inside and outside the hospital, flu kills one-fourth the number of patients who die from non-flu HAIs.

I won't rehash my arguments about mandatory influenza vaccination; you can read them here. But even if you're a believer in the get-vaccinated-or-get fired school of thought, I think you have to admit that the impact of such programs pales in comparison to those aimed at reducing CLABSIs, for example. So articles like this one in the Baltimore Sun simply misinform the public and divert attention from bigger, more important problems.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, the author asked me if this (influenza > HAIs) was true as a fact check. I firmly corrected her errant statement, but, alas, seems it did not sway the final draft.