Epidemiology is the study (scientific, systematic, data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (patient is community, individuals viewed collectively), and the application of (since epidemiology is a discipline within public health) this study to the control of health problems. The nature of the field of hospital epidemiology is changing. To maintain a good program, one needs to adapt to the changing environment. This means that hospital epidemiology initiatives need to take into consideration the competing priorities of all stakeholders, internal and external. This skill may determine the success of the program as much as any others in the healthcare complex environment. Hospital epidemiologists use epidemiologic methods not only for surveillance, prevention, and control of nosocomial infections, but also for applying these methods in other areas, including the epidemiology of noninfectious adverse outcomes of medical care.
Aligned to ULO(s)
ULO1: Discuss the primary applications of epidemiology in health care facilities (CLO 1)
ULO2: Explain the epidemiologic triad (CLO 4)
ULO3: Differentiate the three levels of prevention and the situations when the levels of prevention are applicable in a healthcare facility (CLO 1,4)
Many adverse events in healthcare could have been prevented. Epidemiologic principles, used successfully to reduce the risk of nosocomial infections, are also employed to study and manage other adverse outcomes of medical care. Studies of outcomes are also mandated by purchasers and regulators of healthcare, including the Joint Commission and the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Quality outcomes are becoming increasingly transparent.
The measurement of outcomes of medical care had attracted considerable attention in initiatives to reform the U.S. healthcare delivery system. Outcomes assessment provides a method for evaluating and managing the quality and efficiency of healthcare.
In this unit, assume that you are the Manager at Epidemiology Department in a hospital setting.