Quiz 15: Surveillance and Outbreak Investigation


Public health surveillance is defined by WHO (world health organization) as the process of continuous, methodical collection and analysis of all health associated data needed for evaluation, implementation and planning of public health practice. This procedure is an important tool for nurses for monitoring recent trends in morbidity and mortality, thereby helping improve public health status. Surveillance thus plays a critical role for community nurses providing knowledge about disease and outbreak patterns. This includes information about potential geographical locations and seasonal variations. A surveillance procedure now includes data regarding environmental exposures, bioterrorism sources, and chemical terrorism monitoring also. Public health surveillance protocol also helps prepare a strategy to meet sudden emergency situations and exposures. This requires serious planning so as to mount a proper and prompt response reaction. The whole aim of the procedure is to monitor trends so as to identify and control any potential outbreak and map seasonal variations of different diseases.

The passive system comprises of collecting retrospective data regarding notifiable diseases from clinicians and caregivers to local health department. This data is further forwarded to higher level offices and finally to national or international level like the WHO (world health organization). In the active system, the caregiver starts collecting information about a specific event or disease from clinicians, agencies with the aim of deciphering the magnitude of the problem. The sentinel system is different in that it tracks trends in commonly occurring diseases. Here data is collected from a group of health care providers or agencies and is employed to monitor trends in events or usual diseases. The special system may be a combination of active, passive and sentinel systems. The data collected here is real time or near real time. It is often used to track illness syndromes with an eye for any potential bio-terrorism activities.

Surveillance of a disease is an ongoing collection (systematic), interpretation, dissemination and analysis of specific data (health) for use in the public. It helps the nurses in monitoring the trends of the disease for reducing the mortality and morbidity and to improve people's health. It is a critical role for the nurses because it helps in generating knowledge of any disease or their outbreak patterns. It is so helpful now in reducing the injuries, chronic diseases and the occupational and environmental exposures. There are some basic steps of surveillance, which the nurses are required to follow that includes the whole of planning, analyzing, evaluating and interviewing. The steps are as follows: 1. The suitability of any situation or condition or disease should be analyzed initially. 2. The knowledge of the problem is organized. 3. The clear criteria's of the case are established. 4. Multiple valid data's are collected. 5. The data's are analyzed. 6. The data's are interpreted and is disseminated to the decision-makers. 7. The impact of the surveillance system is evaluated.

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