Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 11 (2010), Issue 4, Pages 297-311

A Classification System for Hospital-Based Infection Outbreaks

1Department of Medical Physics, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Hull, UK
2Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, Hull, UK
3Infection Control, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Hull, UK

Received 16 February 2009; Accepted 21 January 2010

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Outbreaks of infection within semi-closed environments such as hospitals, whether inherent in the environment (such as Clostridium difficile (C.Diff) or Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or imported from the wider community (such as Norwalk-like viruses (NLVs)), are difficult to manage. As part of our work on modelling such outbreaks, we have developed a classification system to describe the impact of a particular outbreak upon an organization. This classification system may then be used in comparing appropriate computer models to real outbreaks, as well as in comparing different real outbreaks in, for example, the comparison of differing management and containment techniques and strategies. Data from NLV outbreaks in the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (the Trust) over several previous years are analysed and classified, both for infection within staff (where the end of infection date may not be known) and within patients (where it generally is known). A classification system consisting of seven elements is described, along with a goodness-of-fit method for comparing a new classification to previously known ones, for use in evaluating a simulation against history and thereby determining how ‘realistic’ (or otherwise) it is.