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Mapping Patient-Nurse Interactions Could Minimize Infections

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, October 28, 2013

Research findings call on hospital leaders to take a deeper look at how staff—primarily nurses—interact with patients, to determine a way for patients at highest risk for infection to come into contact with fewer workers.

These days, the term 'social networking' is practically synonymous with 'social media,' calling to mind buzzing Twitter alerts and updating Facebook statuses. But by analyzing a hospital's social network, in the traditional sense of the phrase, researchers have discovered a new model that may help to minimize infections.

The study, developed by two researchers from the University of Maryland and one from American University, created computer models that simulated interactions between patients and healthcare workers to determine if the interactions were a source for spreading multi-drug resistant organisms.

To do this, the researchers manipulated and tracked the dynamics of the social network in a mid-Atlantic hospital's intensive care unit. They focused primarily on interactions between patients and healthcare workers, as well as on multiple competing factors—staff coverage for meetings, break, and sick leave—that can affect the transmission of infection.

Such transmissions strike one in 20 inpatients, causing tens of thousands of deaths and training billions of dollars from the national healthcare system annually, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

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2 comments on "Mapping Patient-Nurse Interactions Could Minimize Infections"


Daniel Juckette RN, CCRN (12/12/2013 at 10:11 AM)
What about a " turn team" where unit staff alternate in teaming up to go through the unit and turn every patient. Management is enamoured with this idea to reduce skin breakdown. I see it as a way to insure that every staff member touches every patient multiple times during the day. If one staff member becomes contaminated by poor technique or contacts a patient with an undiagnosed infection, it guarantees that infection will be transported to every patient.

Mary Ann Toennisson (11/7/2013 at 2:15 PM)
I think that we also need to consider everyone that moves around in the hospital as causes of infection. How about the transporter that moves a patient from the surgical unit and then picks up a patient from orthopedics. Or the Physical therapist that goes from floor to floor doing gait training. Infections are not just spread in one unit, but throughout the building.