Electronic Sensors Assess Contact Between Healthcare Workers

Transmission of hospital acquired infections (HAI) is mainly based on contacts between patients, patients and healthcare workers (HCWs) and between HCWs only. Description and quantification of contacts at hospitals are key pieces of information for epidemiology and implementing control measures for HAIs.

Researchers in France and Italy describe the SocioPatterns project that has developed an technology based on RFID badges that provides a reliable infrastructure to detect face-to-face proximity of individuals. The system was tested at a scientific conference, in a primary school and in a hospital unit.

At the scientific conference, 26,040 contacts (average duration of 54 seconds) were recorded among 402 participants during two days. At school, 77,226 contacts (average number of 160 contacts per children per day) were observed among 233 children during two days. In the geriatric unit, 50 staff and 29 patients participated to the study during five consecutive days. Statistical analyses are ongoing. For each study, time-resolved datasets on contact patterns were generated. Analyses provided frequency and duration of contacts, and contact matrices. Modeling of the spread of infections will be presented.

Voirin, et al. conclude thatthe study of contacts networks is important to better address the prevention and control of known and emerging HAIs. They are also useful tools to build better models for decision making in public health. Collecting contacts data in the hospital setting, using such electronic devices, appeared to be appropriate and will be an added value to other approaches such as observational audit.

Reference: Voirin N, et al. Using wearable electronic sensors for assessing contacts between individuals in various environments. Presentation at ICPAC, June 2011. BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 6):O51