Protect Thy Neighbor


We are now deep into flu season. Forty states are reporting widespread influenza, and the number of deaths is greater thane expected.

Hospitalized patients are among the most vulnerable people in flu season. Immune systems already weakened by kidney failure or another major illness, hospitalized patients contract influenza from loved ones and - most ironically - from hospital workers. From doctors to nurses and beyond, a coughing caregivers can be the worst kind of medicine for vulnerable hospitalized patients.

Should hospital employees be obligated to get a flu shot to protect vulnerable hospitalized patients? Some hospitals - including mine - require employees to get flu shots or else suffer consequences such as mandatory masks, furlough and firing. Is this an unjustified infringement on personal liberty, or a thoughtful way to protect the health of our most vulnerable? 

Ethicist Bill Nelson and I explore this controversial issue in a recent issue of Healthcare Executive.

Posted on January 17, 2014 .