ABSTRACT: A social network of hospital acquired infection built from electronic medical record data
Objective Social networks have been used in the study of outbreaks of infectious diseases, including in small group settings such as individual hospitals. Collecting the data needed to create such networks, however, can be time consuming, costly, and error prone. We sought to create a social network of hospital inpatients using electronic medical record (EMR) data already collected for other purposes, for use in simulating outbreaks of nosocomial infections.
Materials and methods We used the EMR data warehouse of a tertiary academic hospital to model contact among inpatients. Patient-to-patient contact due to shared rooms was inferred from admission-discharge-transfer data, and contact with healthcare workers was inferred from clinical documents. Contacts were used to generate a social network, which was then used to conduct probabilistic simulations of nosocomial outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and influenza.
Results Simulations of infection transmission across the network reflected the staffing and patient flow practices of the hospital. Simulations modeling patient isolation, increased hand hygiene, and staff vaccination showed a decrease in the spread of infection.
Discussion We developed a method of generating a social network of hospital inpatients from EMR data. This method allows the derivation of networks that reflect the local hospital environment, obviate the need for simulated or manually collected data, and can be updated in near real time.
Conclusions Inpatient social networks represent a novel secondary use of EMR data, and can be used to simulate nosocomial infections. Future work should focus on prospective validation of the simulations, and adapting such networks to other tasks.