Patient Safety Topics
:
Influenza
Overview

Influenza virus continues to be a leading cause of vaccine-preventable disease in the United States, with influenza epidemics causing an average of 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations per year. The adoption of standardized strategies to reduce influenza risk—including ongoing education about safe patient handling practices, handoff communications, and the use of tools and posters—helps to identify patient risk factors and could mitigate potential harm.

Key Data and Statistics

Pennsylvania long-term care facilities report respiratory tract infections, including influenza, to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority through its Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System.

The similarity illustrated below in statewide and national influenza trends reinforces the need for continued preventative measures that protect residents in a long-term care facility from influenza when the incidence in the community is unusually large. For example, long-term care facilities may consider screening visitors for respiratory illness before or during a visit, then provide just-in-time education about respiratory etiquette, mask use, and hand hygiene.

Other interventions long-term care facilities may wish to consider include placing signage and providing materials such as masks, hand sanitizer, and tissues at entrances, which could help protect residents from illness and heighten awareness of visitors about their impact on the health of residents. Resident education and their use of respiratory etiquette, as well as appropriate use of isolation, could be areas of focus.

The incidence of influenza in January 2016 as compared to January 2015 was lower in terms of LRTI rates (Figure 1), likely because of the influence of annual and seasonal variability. The rate of influenza has a temporal association with the rate of pneumonia within this population of patients. CDC FluView data (Figures 2 and 3) show the national impact of influenza by week. When data in these figures is combined to equate to calendar year 2016, in terms of trends, the resulting national laboratory data is similar epidemiologically with Pennsylvania event reports through PA-PSRS in 2016 (Figure 4).

Figure 1. Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI) Rates, by Criteria Definition and Month, 2015 versus 2016

Figure 5. Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI) Rates, by Criteria Definition and Month, 2015 versus 2016 

 

Figure 2. CDC FluView by Week, 2015–2016

 Figure 6. CDC FluView by Week, 2015–2016

Source: From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza positive tests reported to CDC by US public health laboratories, national summary, 2015–2016, week ending Oct 01, 2016 [online]. [cited 2017 Mar 26]. https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/fluportaldashboard.html 

 

Figure 3. CDC FluView by Week, 2016-2017

Figure 7. CDC FluView by Week, 2016-2017 

 

Source: From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza positive tests reported to CDC by US public health laboratories, national summary, 2016–2017, week ending Mar 18, 2017 [online]. [cited 2017 Mar 26]. https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/fluview/fluportaldashboard.html

 

Figure 4. Influenza Reports, by Care Unit and Month, 2016

 Figure 8. Influenza Reports, by Care Unit and Month, 2016

Excerpted from: Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. 2016 Annual Report. 2016 Apr 28 [cited 2017 Jun 7]. http://patientsafety.pa.gov/PatientSafetyAuthority/Pages/annual_report_2016.aspx   

Educational Tools

​Healthcare Workers Can Prevent the Spread of Influenza
Facilities can use this poster to educate healthcare workers about influenza prevention tips including getting vaccinated, washing hands, and staying home if sick.

Do You Know the Difference between a Cold or the Flu?
Facilities can use this poster to educate patients or residents about flu prevention tips and highlight the different symptoms associated with a cold and the flu.

Multimedia

​Visit this section in the future for any multimedia associated with this patient safety topic.

Safety Tips for Patients

 

©2017 Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority