Infectious Disease Readiness

The NYC Department of Health's Communicable Disease Preparedness Program works to ensure citywide readiness for Ebola virus disease and other special pathogens transmissible from person to person. New York City is an international crossroads and disease outbreaks anywhere in the world can make their way here.

Health care facilities and emergency medical services must be ready to prevent, detect and respond to dangerous pathogens. The tools and guidance documents found on this page are designed to help health care systems prepare to safely and successfully identify, isolate, assess, transport and treat patients with a suspected or confirmed special pathogen.

Mystery Patient Drills

An effective method to promote best practices in screening, isolation and infection control in the acute care setting is to conduct unannounced “mystery patient drills” (MPDs). The following materials comprise a toolkit for hospitals, health care networks and health departments to facilitate designing, conducting and evaluating these MPDs.

To request any of the following resources in a modifiable format, email prepdocs@health.nyc.gov.

  • MPD Toolkit PowerPoint (PDF) is an introductory presentation giving an overview of the program and how to conduct the drills.
  • Optional Staff Training on Screening and Isolation Protocols (PDF): In order to prepare your facility’s staff to protect themselves and their patients, your organization might consider training staff on your screening, isolation and infection control protocols. Training can be provided to staff based on their role and likelihood of contact with patients. You can also reference this Essential Staff Training Terminology (PDF) document. Your facility may wish to use this training course designed by the Health Department to provide healthcare facility staff with an overview on how to identify and protect staff and patients from transmission of severe communicable diseases such as Ebola. Once you have registered for an account on the learning management system, you can search for the course name: Essential Staff Training for Infection Control.
  • MPD Overview and Checklist (PDF): Provides a one page overview and a checklist to help you prepare to conduct your MPD(s).

  • MPD ExPlan and Exercise Evaluation Guide (EEG) (PDF): Provides templates for the MPD exercise plan and evaluation guide. This can be modified based on individual organizational needs. Modifications you might make to the EEG should be reflected in the MPD Template After-Action Report to be used post-MPD.

  • MPD After-Action Report (PDF): Provides a means to report the detailed findings of your conducted drill. It includes a template improvement plan which details corrective actions, responsible parties and a timeline for completion based on MPD findings. 

Publications on the Use of Mystery Patient Drills

  • Foote MM, Styles TS, Quinn CL. Assessment of Hospital Emergency Department Response to Potentially Infectious Diseases Using Unannounced Mystery Patient Drills — New York City, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:945–949.
  • Foote, M., et al. Using "Mystery Patient" Drills to Assess Hospital Ebola Preparedness in New York City, 2014-2015. Health Secur 15(5): 500-508.
  • Ali, M. and M. D. Williams. No-Notice Mystery Patient Drills to Assess Emergency Preparedness for Infectious Diseases at Community Health Centers in New York City, 2015-2016. J Community Health 44(2): 387-394.

Additional Resources for Screening, Isolation and Infection Control in Acute Care Settings

  • Screening Algorithm Template for Highly Infectious Disease ED (PDF): Is a sample screening and isolation algorithm for use by your staff. You should modify it to match your facility’s protocols (or flowchart) for communicable diseases.

  • NYC Guidance for Screening and Isolation Protocols in Acute Care (PDF): Provides a reference for developing or revising your facility’s screening and isolation protocols. These sample job action sheets (PDF) provide a quick reference for triage staff and emergency department supervisors on initial patient screening for communicable diseases.