Spread of Pathogens in the Patient Transfer Network of US Hospitals


Antibiotic-resistant organisms, an increasing source of morbidity and mortality, have a natural reservoir in hospitals, and recent estimates suggest that almost 2 million people develop hospital-acquired infections each year in the US alone. We investigate the temporal network of transfers of Medicare patients across US hospitals over a 2-year period to learn about the possible role of hospital-to-hospital transfers of patients in the spread of infections. We analyze temporal, geographical, and topological properties of the transfer network and show that this network may serve as a substrate for the spread of infections. Finally, we study different strategies for the early detection of incipient epidemics on the temporal transfer network as a function of activation time of a subset of sensor hospitals. We find that using approximately 2% of hospitals as sensors, chosen based on their network in-degree, with an activation time of 7 days results in optimal performance for this early warning system, enabling the early detection of 80% of the C. difficile. cases with the hospitals in the sensor set activated for only a fraction of 40% of the time.



J. Gracia, J. Onnela, M. Barnett, V.M. Eguíluz, and N. A. Christakis, “Spread of Pathogens in the Patient Transfer Network of US Hospitals,” Lecture Notes in Computer Science, in: Lee D., Lin YR., Osgood N., Thomson R. (eds) Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Modeling. SBP-BRiMS 2017. vol 10354 (Jun 2017) DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-60240-0_33

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Spread Of Pathogens In The Patient Transfer Network Of Us Hospitals