The new policy includes those who attend the emergency department at UHL
THE UL Hospitals Group has confirmed it is asking patients about their vaccination status when they attend at hospitals, including the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick.
It says the policy, which is in line with the latest national guidance, is to help keep all patients and staff in its hospitals safe from Covid infection.
A spokesperson confirmed patients are being asked about their status either before they attend for appointments, at the time of check-in or admission, or as soon as possible thereafter.
"Providing this information at admission assists the hospital to manage patients according to the degree of immunisation they have from Covid-19. It also helps the hospital more safely manage patients who come into contact with a Covid-19 case in any of our hospitals," said a spokesperson.
UL Hospitals says it is now part of the national guidance on Covid-19 that information on the vaccination status of patients in acute hospitals is determined and recorded, either prior to admission or as soon as possible thereafter.
The key information—date of last vaccination dose; how many doses have been received; and type of vaccine—will be requested from the patient or, in the case of those patients unable to communicate the information themselves, from next of kin or a family member accompanying the patient to hospital.
The vaccination status of patients will not affect their treatment.
Barbara Slevin, Assistant Director of Nursing in Infection Prevention & Control at UL Hospitals, says the request for vaccination by hospitals is part of a ‘best practice’ approach to infection prevention during the pandemic that is already in evidence in wider society.
“People are already carrying their vaccination records with them, either the EU Digital Covid Certificate on their mobile phones, or the vaccination record card they would have received at their vaccination centres, and using that to access indoor dining and so on. This is very much a continuation of that. It’s best practice in infection prevention, and it’s all about ensuring that people are safe when attending hospital,” Ms Slevin said.
She added that it is important for those attending hospital with a patient to observe the Covid-19 public health protocols: “If you are accompanying a member of your family to hospital or appointments, please do not attend if you have been informed that you are a Covid contact, or if you have any Covid symptoms.”
Knowledge of patients’ vaccination status has assumed greater importance in recent months, in light of the prevalence in our communities of the contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, and the threat that Covid-19 continues to present to hospitals and other public healthcare facilities.
UL Hospitals says information on patients’ vaccination status will be treated in the strictest confidence, in line with the ethical obligation on UL Hospitals Group to protect the confidentiality of all patients in its care.
This is also a legal requirement as defined in the General Data Protection Regulation along with the Data Protection Acts 1988-2018.
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