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Guidelines prompt reminders to offer immunization to inpatients

Oct. 4, 2012, 9:36 AM

With the start of flu season, health care providers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are receiving more automated reminders to offer immunization to hospitalized patients.

Early this year, in a move prompted by new recommendations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, VUMC began ensuring that all eligible inpatients are offered vaccination against influenza and pneumococcus.


CMS has begun monitoring hospital compliance with its new recommendations.

“Public health officials are searching out more avenues to prevent flu and pneumonia, which are all too common and often deadly,” said Neesha Choma, M.D., MPH, assistant chief of staff and executive medical director of quality and patient safety at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

“Immunization has traditionally been handled in outpatient settings, but the new thinking is that all patient encounters, including hospital stays, represent opportunities to get eligible patients immunized.”

VUMC is using its information systems to aid this effort. As nurses admit patients to the hospital, the system automatically searches for immunization records, and if none are found nurses are prompted to screen for clinical eligibility and, where applicable, offer vaccination and issue vaccination orders.

Later, as discharge orders are written, the system again looks for immunization records and if none are found the discharging provider is prompted to offer any needed vaccinations prior to discharge.

Patients 6 months and older are eligible for flu vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccination is for patients 65 and older, as well as younger patients who smoke or have diabetes, cardio-pulmonary disease or certain other diseases.

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