A dynamic patient network model of hospital-acquired infections
We investigate the transmission of infectious diseases in hospitals using a network-centric perspective. Patients who share a health care worker (HCW) are inherently connected to each other and those connections form a network through which transmission can occur. The structure of such networks can be a strong determinant of the extent and rate of transmission. We first examine how the density of the patient network affects transmission. Our experiments demonstrate that nurses are responsible for spreading more infection because they typically visit patients more often. However, doctors also pose a serious threat because their patient networks are more highly connected, which creates more opportunity for transmission to spread to multiple cohorts in the unit. We also explore the effects of patient sharing among HCWs, which temporarily alters the structure of the patient network. Our results suggest that this practice should be done in a structured manner to minimize additional transmission.