Startling Flu-like Illness Statistics in Child Well Visits Revealed in 12-Year Data

First Posted: Feb 12, 2014 09:27 PM EST

Despite the importance of doctor well visits for children, recent research has found that there is an increased risk for these children and immediate family members to catch a flu-like illness during their time spent in waiting rooms and clinics.

Researchers from the University of Iowa conducted the study whose lead author is Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH. By collecting used data recorded between 1996- 2008 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ), the researchers examined 84,595 families nationwide. Following two weeks after the well visit, children as well as other family members had a greater risk of obtaining a flu-like illness.

The University of Iowa study has been published in the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America in next month's issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.  This higher risk of catching a flu-like illness translates to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses annually, which cost more than $490 million, according to the study in this EurekAlert! article.

The study arrived at these statistics by collecting date from these 84,000+ families and controlling for factors that included presence of other children, insurance and demographics. For every well visit examined, they found a 3.2 percent increase in the probability of flu-like illnesses among the children and other family members.

The author believes this problem can be alleviated if more practices effectively utilize infection prevention protocol and other recommended guidelines that include improving environmental cleaning, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene compliance.

"Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by healthcare professionals, patients, and their families," said lead author Dr. Polgreen in this EurekAlert! article. "If hand-hygiene compliance is poor, and potentially infectious patients are not wearing masks, preventable infections will continue to occur," he added.

To read more about Dr. Polgreen and the University of Iowa study, visit th previously mentioned EurekAlert! article. The full details of the study will be available in March.

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