Surveillance Checklist for Patients, Employees

In a syndrome surveillance program developed at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, OR, infection control professionals monitor wards for unusual clusters of infections among patients and employees. They make routine rounds to acute care areas and interview key staff in the area. Some of the program’s key questions to staff are summarized in the following checklists:

Patient surveillance

Describe any unexplained clusters of patients with common symptoms or findings suggestive of communicable disease including the following:

- Diarrhea/nausea/vomiting

- Illness with fever complicated by rash covering whole body, sore throat with white or yellow membrane, red swollen lymph nodes

- Symptoms suggestive of influenzalike illness (cough, sore throat, temperature, chills, headache, extreme fatigue, shortness-of-breath, decreased appetite, change in mental status)

- Symptoms suggestive of tuberculosis

- Possible cases of transmission of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms (VRE, MRSA)

- Patients with infected peripheral or central-line sites

- Patients with possible surgical-site infections

Occupational surveillance

In monitoring for potential outbreaks in employees ask staff about:

- Clusters of employees reporting diarrhea/ nausea/vomiting

- Clusters of employees reporting illness with fever complicated by rash covering whole body, sore throat with white or yellow membrane, red swollen lymph nodes

- Clusters of employee with influenzalike illness (cough, sore throat, temperature, chills, head-ache, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, decreased appetite, change in mental status)

- Increased absenteeism or unusual sick leave patternsn