Friday, 9 November 2012

The Dark Side of Hospitals

After virtual threats and food poisoning, a new study takes a closer look at viruses in hospitals.

Hospitals shouldn’t make you sicker. But plenty of people acquire illnesses while hospitalized—in some countries, such so-called nosocomial infections afflict more than 10 percent of patients.

Jack Nicholson's life might not be the only one threatened by a nurse.
To investigate transmission pathways, European researchers of the SocioPatterns collaboration fitted 119 people in a ward of the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital with radio-frequency identification (RFID) badges. The tags registered face-to-face interactions—and the potential spreading of airborne pathogens.

The map.

Nurses interacted with the widest variety of individuals across the ward—patients, doctors, other nurses, and so on. The study indicates that nurses should take priority in strategies for preventing or controlling hospital outbreaks.

Different groups of the hospital.
The scientific method used in the analysis was developed in the MIT Media Lab. The sociometric badges aim to eliminate behavioral changes that occure because they are participating in an experiment. The devices are capable of  capturing face-to-face interactions, extracting social signals from speech and body movement and can also measure proximity and location of the users. The invention was listed as on of the top 10 innovations by the Harvard Business Review.

Check out the interactive map on Scientific American! For more about the method, we recommend the company's page.

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