Healthcare infection incidents and outbreaks

Frequently asked questions

What is a healthcare infection incident or outbreak?

An incident or outbreak may include:

  • a single case of any serious illness that has major implications for others, the organisation or wider public health
  • two or more linked cases with the same infection associated with the same healthcare setting over a period of time
  • a higher than expected number of cases of infection than is normal
  • an exposure to infection from a healthcare system failure or near miss.

What action is taken if there is an healthcare infection incident or outbreak

During an incident or outbreak the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual (NIPCM) should be followed.  Further information on incidents and outbreaks can be found in Section 3 of the NIPCM.

Following detection or recognition of an incident the NHS board Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPCT) or Health Protection Team (HPT) will undertake an initial assessment, using the mandatory Healthcare Infection Incident Assessment Tool (HIIAT)  and gather epidemiological data and clinical assessment information on the patients condition as per:

If green

If the HIIAT is assessed as green and the NHS Board does not ask for our support then this should be reported as per DL(2015)19.

If support is required this should be communicated to us. Details of the HIIAT Green reporting procedure are available from the resources section of the NIPCM.

If amber or red

If the HIIAT is assessed amber or red then the NHS board will report this to us. A Healthcare Incident Infection and Outbreak Reporting Template (HIIORT) should be completed and sent to us.