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Enigma in the ED

Tracking a Puzzling Illness


Author(s)

Sarah Stokke
Department of Nursing
University of South Dakota
Sarah.Stokke@usd.edu
Jean Yockey
Department of Nursing
University of South Dakota
Jean.Yockey@usd.edu

Abstract

This PowerPoint-driven case study has students apply the “Steps of an Outbreak Investigation” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in 2019. The case begins with six patients of various ages who present with similar symptoms to the emergency departments (ED) of two local hospitals. Patient histories and vitals do not immediately suggest a common diagnosis. In light of this, students individually or in small groups are tasked with assembling an interdisciplinary team to determine the cause of these patients’ illness. Working through the case requires that students analyze patient data, identify the causative organism and mode of transmission, and design a plan to break the chain of infection so as to prevent further spread of the disease. The case concludes with evaluation and reflection activities. Basic public health and epidemiology principles are included in the case. Although the case focusses on COVID-19, these principles apply to any emerging infectious disease. Developed for an undergraduate nursing community health course, the case would also be appropriate for courses in health sciences, public health, basic microbiology or epidemiology.


Objectives

  • Identify health risks for a population based on epidemiologic data.
  • Apply the “Steps of an Outbreak Investigation” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to an emerging illness.
  • Examine interprofessional collaboration needed in emergency events.
  • Access accurate information from professional sites to develop an action plan.

Keywords

COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; emerging illness; infection; transmission; chain of infection; epidemiology; emerging infectious disease

Topical Areas

Science and the media

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Clicker, Discussion

Language

English

Subject Headings

Epidemiology  |   Medicine (General)  |   Nursing  |   Public Health  |  


Date Posted

05/28/2020

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The optional handout below includes a blank table that students can fill in as they work through the case.

  
  covid19_investigation.pdf

Answer Key

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