Infection control is one of the twenty-first century’s most challenging health problems, as witnessed by global debates about microbial resistance and several high-profile hospital infection scandals. This interdisciplinary volume brings together work from leading historians, researchers, healthcare professionals and policy makers to consider the history, practice and future of hospital infection control in the UK. Through personal reflections, historical case studies, policy debates and accounts of specific hospitals this volume explores the roles of technology, healthcare professions, emotional attitudes, and human factors and ergonomics in the translation of scientific knowledge into clinical practice. These insights into the theory and practice of infection control in the operating room, bedside, laboratory and boardroom, provide vital reading not only for historians of medicine, practitioners and policy makers, but also for researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
The introduction sets out the scope of this book, an interdisciplinary volume that includes work from ten leading historians, healthcare professionals and policy makers who consider the history, practice and future of infection control since the mid-nineteenth century. Infection prevention and control is one of the twenty-first century’s most challenging problems, as indicated by global concerns about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). But most attention has been paid to antimicrobial drugs, rather than the personnel, practices and alternative technologies associated with hospital infection control, or the history of hospital practice. The essays in this volume bring a new perspective to a pressing global problem.
This volume shows how history can enrich our understanding of current issues of hospital infection control, including AMR, and inform perspectives on the future. For example, while efforts to develop new classes of antimicrobial drugs are undoubtedly important, they should not overshadow the financial, personnel and governance methods necessary to maintain high standards of infection control in the hospital environment, which have proven successful in recent years. The essays in this volume have shown the value historical understandings of the past can bring to modern day concerns, as well as the ways history has been misused to justify the notion of ‘progress’.