Knowledge is Power for Preventing Healthcare Spread of Influenza

Reviewed by Emily S. Spivak, MD, MHS, University of Utah School of Medicine

Hospitalized patients are at risk of exposure to influenza from health-care providers (HCP). To help prevent such exposures, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HCP stay home until they are fever free for at least 24 hours after an influenza-like illness (ILI), in addition to annual vaccination. Babcock and colleagues conducted a survey of Emerging Infections Network infectious diseases physicians evaluating institutional experiences with and policies regarding HCP working with ILI.

Of 715 physicians surveyed, 51% responded. Nearly 40% of respondents were unaware of their institutional policies. Of the remaining 232 respondents who were aware of policies, 63% said the policies were communicated at least annually. 53% reported adherence to work restrictions was not monitored or enforced. It was perceived that work restrictions were most often not enforced for physicians-in-training and attending physicians. The survey highlights opportunities for improvement around communication, monitoring and enforcement of work-restriction policies to prevent influenza transmission from HCP to patients.


Babcock HM, et al. Reported variability in healthcare facility policies regarding healthcare personnel working while experiencing influenza-like illnesses: An emerging infections network survey. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2019 Nov 14:1-6. doi: 10.1017/ice.2019.305. [Epub ahead of print] 

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