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Mapping Patient-Nurse Interactions Could Minimize Infections

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, October 28, 2013

While Barnes says he is not personally aware of hospitals that are using a social network analysis approach to limit contact, there are many hospitals using gloves and gowns to minimize direct contact with patients.


See Also: Cheaper Way to Stop MRSA Adds No Patient Risk


"There are also some studies looking at nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, but my impression is that they are inconclusive at this point," he says. "The challenge with these studies is data collection and integrity. Our advantage using simulation mitigates this challenge because we can experiment directly with these experimental factors and observe the effects."

Moving forward, it would be a helpful exercise for hospitals—particularly intensive care units—to start mapping the social networks within individual units, and potentially across multiple units that have a high degree of interaction, Barnes says.

"With this map, hospital administrators and infection control practitioners could analyze whether or not there are simple changes they can make to reduce the density of connections," he says.

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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.