The movement of healthcare professionals (HCPs) induces an indirect contact network: touching a patient or the environment in one area, then again elsewhere, can spread healthcare-associated pathogens from 1 patient to another. Thus, understanding HCP movement is vital to calibrating mathematical models of healthcare-associated infections. Because long-term care facilities (LTCFs) are an important locus of transmission and have been understudied relative to hospitals, we developed a system for measuring contact patterns specifically within an LTCF. Methods: To measure HCP movement patterns, we used badges (credit-card–sized, programmable, battery-powered devices with wireless proximity sensors) worn by HCPs and placed in 30 locations for 3 days. Each badge broadcasts a brief message every 8 seconds. When received by other badges within range, the recipients recorded the time, source badge identifier, and signal strength. By fusing the data collected by all badges with a facility map, we estimated when and for how long each HCP was in any of the locations where instruments had been installed. Results: Combining the messages captured by all of our devices, we calculated the dwell time for each job type (eg, nurses, nursing assistants, physical therapists) in different locations (eg, resident rooms, dining areas, nurses stations, hallways, etc). Although dwell times over all job and area types averaged ∼100 seconds, the standard deviation was large (115 seconds), with a mean of maximums by job type of ∼450 seconds. For example, nursing assistants spent substantially more time in resident rooms and transitioned across rooms at a much higher rate. Overall, each distribution exhibits a power-law–like characteristic. By aggregating the data from devices with location data extracted from the floor plan, we were able to produce an explicit trace for each individual (identified only by job type) for each day and to compute cross-table transition probabilities by area for each job type. Conclusions: We developed a portable system for measuring contact patterns in long-term care settings. Our results confirm that frequent interactions between HCPs and LTC residents occur, but they are not uniform across job types or resident locations. The data produced by our system can be used to better calibrate mathematical models of pathogen spread in LTCs. Moreover, our system can be easily and quickly deployed to any healthcare settings to similarly inform outbreak investigations.
Disclosures: Scott Fridkin reports that his spouse receives a consulting fee from the vaccine industry.