Monday, October 19, 2009

Nurses Suing Employer over Flu Vax Mandate

A plan that officials at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center had hoped would improve patient safety and save lives has landed them in some legal hot water instead.

The Washington State Nurses Assn., on behalf of the hospital's 500 nurses, filed a petition in federal court Oct. 1, seeking an injunction to stop implementation of the hospital's new policy of mandatory flu shots for all employees.

"Nurses feel they don't have a choice between getting a shot or leaving Virginia Mason," said WSNA spokeswoman Anne Tan Piazza. "The WSNA absolutely supports flu vaccinations and we are well aware of their benefits, but we think the approach to compliance is through education and not through threats of termination."

Virginia Mason spokeswoman Kim Davis said education efforts had achieved a vaccination rate of about 55%, which is significantly higher than the 38% national rate for health care workers, but the hospital is shooting for 100%.

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