University of Iowa Health Care, in consultation with the UI Employee Health Clinic and the Program of Hospital Epidemiology, will stop annual tuberculin skin testing (TST) for tuberculous (TB), effective Aug. 1, 2019.
We sat down with Jorge Salinas, MD, hospital epidemiologist and clinical assistant professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, to learn more about this change and what it means for faculty and staff.
Can you share a little bit of background on TB testing within UI Health Care?
“UI Hospitals & Clinics does a yearly assessment of the risk of TB transmission in our facilities. We’re classified as a low risk facility for TB transmission, but in the past, out of an abundance of caution, we’ve had employees perform annual TSTs.”
So what has changed that we are no longer going to be testing annually for TB?
“We are a low risk hospital in a state with low TB incidence. In addition, the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that hospitals do not screen for TB annually. Because of appropriate use of preventative measures, such as airborne transmission-based precautions, the risk of acquiring TB in a hospital is no different than out in the community.”
Will new hires continue to receive TST during their onboarding health screen?
“Yes. New employees must continue to be tested during their initial health screen.”
If an employee was tested upon hire, when would they need to be tested again?
“Most employees will not need to be retested after their initial health screen. Employees who work in departments where the risk of exposure is elevated will be contacted individually to inform them of their continued requirement for annual TB skin testing.”
Where can I go to make sure that I’m not in one of the elevated risk groups?
“Most employees and trainees will not require subsequent TB skin testing. Those still in need of their annual TB skin testing will be notified individually. Additionally, all employees can go to their Compliance and Qualifications dashboards to view details and verify that they are not part of the small group that would still require additional testing.”
What if I am due to be tested before Aug. 1 of this year?
“You should still complete your TST as directed in your Compliance and Qualifications dashboard. This transition away from annual testing will be reflected beginning Aug. 1.”
Any last thoughts about this change?
“It’s good news for our faculty and staff! We are following CDC guidelines, and we are compliant with Iowa Code. Importantly, moving away from annual TB skin testing will still keep our faculty, staff, patients, and visitors safe and healthy.”