Outbreak investigations in health facilities

Outbreaks are unfortunate events that afflict both patients and staff as well as the cost of health care. In this course, you will learn how to identify and investigate outbreaks, the importance of communication, how to implement outbreak control measures, and how to identify lessons learned to inform and improve future health care delivery.

Please note: These materials were launched on 05/12/2022.

Self-paced
Language: English
Not disease specific

Course information

When an outbreak occurs within the facility, it is the responsibility of the infection prevention and control (IPC) team to help identify and investigate the source of that outbreak, reduce its effects and, with the support of the broader outbreak team, prevent its recurrence. The IPC team should also be able to assess when there is a risk of spread of a pathogen brought into the facility from the community, and should put in place measures to prevent or contain health care-associated transmission. In this course you will learn how to identify a healthcare associated infection (HAI) outbreak in your facility and what to do after a HAI outbreak is identified. Much of the content in this course will draw from other courses. Take note of these referrals and seek out the other courses for more information.

Learning objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  • define an outbreak and describe the various types that occur within a health care setting;
  • describe how breaking the chain of infection can help prevent or stop an outbreak.
  • explain how an outbreak investigation stops the spread of an outbreak
  • identify the steps of describing an outbreak investigation; and
  • identify control measures that will aid in ending the outbreak and preventing reoccurrence.

Course duration: Approximately 3 hours.

Certificates: A Record of Achievement will be issued to participants who receive at least 70% on the post-test. You have an unlimited number of attempts to meet the threshold. Participants who receive a Record of Achievement can also download an Open Badge for this course. Click here to learn how.

Course contents

  • Identifying a HAI Outbreak:

    Many of the precautions that should be put in place in a health care facility to prevent health care acquired infections (HAI) or reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are critical to protect patients, health care workers (HCWs) and visitors from epidemic spread of pathogens. When an outbreak occurs within the facility, it is the responsibility of the infection prevention and control (IPC) team to help identify and investigate the source of that outbreak, reduce its effects and, with the support of the broader outbreak team, prevent its recurrence. The IPC team should also be able to assess when there is a risk of spread of a pathogen brought into the facility from the community, and should put in place measures to prevent or contain health care-associated transmission. In this module you will learn how to identify a HAI outbreak in your facility and what to do after a HAI outbreak is identified. Much of the content in this module will draw from other modules in this course. Take note of these referrals and seek out the other modules for more information.
  • Describing the Outbreak:

    When an outbreak is identified, you should immediately begin an investigation. In this module you will learn how an outbreak investigation helps determine the cause of the outbreak and stop the spread of the infection. When describing an outbreak, you will learn who needs to be informed of the outbreak, how to define a case definition, identify cases, and describe its epidemiology. You will learn more about analysing an outbreak in the next module.
  • Outbreak Investigations: Analysing and Communicating Outbreak and Control Measures:

    Describing the outbreak is half the battle. Now that you understand how data can help you assess what caused the outbreak, the outbreak management team (OMT) will need to analyse the information gathered when describing an outbreak to ensure appropriate infection control measures are implemented. In this module you will learn how to analyse the information/data gathered about the outbreak, define a hypothesis that accurately describes the potential cause of the outbreak, identify and implement the appropriate control measures, and communicate outbreak findings. These activities will help end the outbreak and prevent reoccurrence.

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Learners enrolled: 3286

Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a Record of Achievement by earning at least 70% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.