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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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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.


3 citations in Web of Science®
4 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™


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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
Deposited On:28 Jan 2012 17:03
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:21
Publisher:Universidad de Granada
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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