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J Hosp Infect. 2018 Dec;100(4):365-370. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.08.001. Epub 2018 Aug 6.

Fighting the good fight: the fallout of fake news in infection prevention and why context matters.

Author information

1
Infection Control Programme and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.
2
Infection Control Programme and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland; Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.
3
Department of Research, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.
4
Centre d'appui pour la Prévention des Infections Associées aux Soins de Nouvelle Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France.
5
Infection Control Programme and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address: didier.pittet@hcuge.ch.

Abstract

Although misinformation has always existed, the scope and speed at which fake news can reach even the most remote corners of the globe is a modern phenomenon. In the field of infection prevention and control (IPC), we like to believe that our dedication to the field and the process of conducting science protects us from the ravages of 'bad buzz' and fake news. This misconception leads medical professionals to underestimate the negative effects of misinformation on public health. This paper focuses on the nexus of what is happening between the field of IPC and the public. Its aim is to examine how information gets distorted and amplified between the medical community and the public, and outline some of the issues that deserve further attention. It looks at a number of case studies which show that even one badly conducted study can have a severe negative impact on public health, and that a well-conducted study can be distorted to make people believe something fallacious. In the current system of publishing and the proliferation of online journals that publish without peer review, 'bad buzz' and fake news can quickly do a good deal of damage.

KEYWORDS:

Academic medicine; Alcohol-based hand rub; Fake news; IPC; Infection prevention and control; Media; Publishing; Vaccines

PMID:
30092290
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhin.2018.08.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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