Joint Commission Quick Safety Issue - Protecting Patients and Others from Influenza in the Health Care Setting

PUBLISHED: Dec 12, 2018
Relevant to: All Healthcare Organizations

The Joint Commission (TJC) recently issued Quick Safety Issue 46, addressing the importance of health care workers getting the flu shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that last year’s influenza had the highest number of cases since 2009. “During the 2017-2018 flu season, an estimated 48.8 million became ill with influenza, 22.7 million went to a health care provider, 959,000 were hospitalized, and 79,400 died from influenza.”

In this Quick Safety Issue, TJC highlights the differences between the flu and the common cold. According to TJC, key difference between the cold and flu are:

  • Flu symptoms come on abruptly, compared to the gradual onset of cold symptoms.
  • The flu is usually associated with a fever, headache, chills, aches and fatigue/weakness, while these symptoms are uncommon in the common cold.
  • The common cold is usually associated with sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat. These symptoms may or may not be associated with the flu.

TJC stresses that prevention is the best way to prevent the flu. Prevention includes:

  • Gett vaccinated
  • Wash hands
  • Use soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Practice good health habits, especially during flu season, like frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you touch.
  • Protect others if you feel ill with flu symptoms:
  • Stay home from work if you are sick.
  • A person with the flu can be contagious the day BEFORE symptoms start and remain contagious for up to seven days; the person is most contagious the first three-to-four days of symptoms starting. The flu virus can be spread up to one day after symptoms subside.
  • Specifically, for health care workers:
    • The CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommends that all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated annually against influenza.


  • TJC standard IC.02.04.01 requires accredited organizations to offer a flu vaccination to licensed independent practitioners and staff.
  • Make flu vaccination available for workers on all shifts
  • TJC encourages “…supportive, non-punitive time-off policies to encourage sick employees to not come into work.”

Included with today’s notice is a link to TJC’s Quick Safety Issue 46 as well as example policies related vaccination of healthcare staff, influenza prevention and treatment.

Want to read the full alert and receive alert emails?

Browse Additional Alerts