Wisconsin: Direct care means hands-on functions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended flu vaccine for health care workers with direct patient care responsibilities. But what is direct patient care? The state of Wisconsin came up with this guidance:

The definition of health care workers with direct patient care responsibilities is based on these two considerations:

1. risk of transmission in health care settings is greater with prolonged close contact than with short-term, more indirect contact;

2. the ability to use infection control measures for staff not eligible for immunization.

Health care workers with direct patient care are those who perform hands-on patient care or medical procedures that bring them in direct physical contact with a patient.

Such procedures include blood pressure checks, bedpan duty, phlebotomy, bathing, physical examinations, and any other care in which the person "lays hands on a patient." Individuals likely to be in this category are:

  • physicians;
  • physician assistants and nurse practitioners;
  • nurses;
  • nurse aids;
  • respiratory therapists;
  • lab personnel;
  • dentists;
  • X-ray technicians;
  • emergency medical service personnel;
  • others who perform activities that bring them in close physical contact with patients.

Those who are excluded are:

  • social workers;
  • administration and support staff;
  • maintenance workers;
  • pharmacy staff;
  • housekeeping staff;
  • dietary staff;
  • chaplains;
  • patient representatives;
  • others who do not perform hands-on care or medical procedures that bring them in close physical contact with patients.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Madison. Web: www.dhfs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/influenza/pdf_files/Influenzaclarification101504.pdf.