Friday, October 9, 2009

I was recently explaining the programs and mission of PULSE of NY. As the president of PULSE of NY, I often need to explain what, exactly a grassroots patient safety organization does – and why. In this case, it was a person who was a high level administrator of a local hospital. After describing our work in patient safety, this woman asked what we feel about flu shots and the H1N1 specifically.

“We don’t take a position on flu shots” I explained. Obviously annoyed at my response, she questioned me repeatedly about the safety of patients when people go into the hospital and have not been vaccinated. I explained that the shot is being debated. We don’t get into debates about the rights of people to get vaccinated, or not. What I will debate is the right of a patient to get the correct vaccination in a clean environment. Still not satisfied she continued the discussion. I went on to explain that we can not guarantee that a person who has had the vaccination is not covered with other germs.

Most of us have MRSA on our body but if we are healthy, it won’t affect us. It is when we bring the germs into the sick patient there is a problem. So whether you have the flu or a cold or not, hand washing, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing is essential to the patient’s safety and if you have symptoms – stay away.

I have always said there are 3 areas I won’t debate; religion, politics and vaccinations.

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