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J Hosp Infect. 2017 Feb;95(2):129-134. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2016.11.013. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Can intersectional innovations reduce hospital infection?

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VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Electronic address:


Preventing healthcare-associated infection remains an international priority given the clinical and economic consequences of this largely preventable patient safety harm. Whereas important strides have been made in preventing hospital infections over the past several decades, thorny issues remain, including how to consistently improve hand hygiene rates and further reduce device-related complications such as catheter-associated urinary tract infection. Rather than relying solely on directional innovations - incremental changes that continue to serve as the bedrock of scientific advancement - perhaps we should also search for 'intersectional innovations', which represent breakthrough discoveries that emanate from the intersection of often widely divergent disciplines. Several intersectional innovations that have the potential to greatly impact infection prevention efforts include human factors engineering, sociology, and engaging the senses. Indeed, Professor Edward Joseph Lister Lowbury, the namesake of this lecture, exemplified intersectional thinking in his own life, having been both an accomplished bacteriologist and poet. By incorporating approaches outside of traditional biomedical science we may hope to provide patients with the safe care they expect and deserve.


Culture; Hospital infection; Human factors engineering; Intersectional innovation; Senses; Sociology

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