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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-54809

Condrau, F; Kirk, R G W (2011). Negotiating hospital infections: the debate between ecological balance and eradication strategies in British hospitals, 1947-1969. Dynamis, 31(2):385-406.

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Abstract

This paper reviews and contrasts two strategies of infection control that emerged in response to the growing use of antibiotics within British hospitals, c.1946-1969. At this time, we argue, the hospital became an arena within which representatives of the medical sciences and clinical practices contested not so much the content of knowledge but the way that knowledge translated into practice. Key to our story are the conceptual assumptions about antibiotics put forward by clinicians, on the one hand, and microbiologists on the other. The former embraced antibiotics as the latest weapon in their fight to eradicate disease. For clinicians, the use of antibiotics were utilised within a conceptual frame that prioritised the value of the individual patient before them. Microbiologists, in contrast, understood antibiotics quite differently. They adopted a complex understanding of the way antibiotics functioned within the hospital environment that emphasised the relational and ecological aspects of their use. Despite their broader environmental focus, microbiologists focussed on the ways in which bacteria travelled led to ever greater emphasis being placed on the «healthy» body which, having been exposed to antibiotics, became a dangerous carrier of resistant staphylococcal strains. The surrounding debate regarding the appropriate use of antibiotics reveals the complex relationship between hospital, the medical sciences and clinical practice. We conclude that the history of hospital infections invites a more fundamental reflection on global hospital cultures, antibiotic prescription practices, and the fostering of an interdisciplinary spirit among the professional groups living and working in the hospital.

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1 citation in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:28 Jan 2012 17:03
Last Modified:02 Oct 2014 13:02
Publisher:Universidad de Granada
ISSN:0211-9536
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=EBI01&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=090&request=002022935
http://www.revistadynamis.es/mambo/index.php (Publisher)

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