Germs and governance

The past, present and future of hospital infection, prevention and control

Edited by Anne Marie Rafferty, Marguerite Dupree and Fay Bound Alberti

Germs and governance


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4078-4
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: March 2021
  • BIC Category: History, Modern History, History of Medicine, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare, MEDICAL / History, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Hospital Infections, Medicine / Health systems & services, Medicine / History of medicine
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


Germs and governance brings together leading historians, practitioners and policy makers to consider the past, present and future of hospital infection control. Combining historical case-studies with practitioner experiences, this volume offers a new understanding of the emergence of theories of germ transmission and containment and how these theories played out in real-world environments, networks and professional organisations.

Exploring the historical context in which technologies like gloves were developed and popularised, as well as how relationships between communities and hospitals, doctors and nurses, and the emerging role of hospital bacteriologists have shaped infection control practices, the collection emphasises the diverse contexts in which ideas about germs, infection and safety circulated. The volume also addresses the historical neglect of the critical role of nurses in the development and success of infection control measures.


'Germs and governance brings together a diverse array of scholars to give the topic its due attention, presented here as a series of eleven articles, framed by an introduction and incisive conclusion... Ultimately, it is this call for - and demonstration of - such cross-disciplinary approaches to an enduring hospital and societal concern that makes this a particularly useful volume for historians, clinicians, and policymakers alike.'
Scott H. Podolsky, Social History of Medicine

'Limitations to control of infections originating in hospitals have long been evident. Antibiotic-resistant organisms and their ability to transfer associated genes are increasingly problematic, and this rise of so-called superbugs alarms health care professionals on a global scale. Including contributions from medical historians, infection control specialists, and policy makers, this book presents the methods from past to present that have been and still are used to minimize the spread of infections in hospitals, providing some insight into where infection control improvements can be made. The book is organized into five parts, each comprising a historical chapter and an updating one: policy, medical training, clinical practice, control in the laboratory, and projections for future control of antibiotic resistance, especially given the threats posed by such bacteria as MRSA (staph) and Clostridium. The editors summarize current challenges for key players in a jointly authored conclusion. A great read, this book should appeal to everyone involved in health care at all stages of their careers, including bacteriologists, caregivers, and especially administrators, and will reinforce understanding of the longstanding importance of prevention and control of infection. Although many examples and data sets were collected in the UK, the book is relatable to health care systems everywhere.
--M. C. Pavao, Worcester State University
Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.
Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.


Foreword - Professor Dame Sally Davies
Introduction - Marguerite Dupree, Anne Marie Rafferty and Fay Bound Alberti

Part I: Policy and infection control
1 Hospital infections and the role of the community before MRSA, 1930-1960 - Flurin Condrau
2 Cleanliness costs: the evolving relationship between infection and length of stay in antibiotic-era hospitals - Sally Sheard

Part II: Infection control: Nurses and medical students
3 Pus, pedagogy and practice: how 'dirt' shaped surgical nurse training and hierarchies of practice, 1900-1935 - Pamela Wood
4 Septic subjects: infection control and occupational illness in British hospitals, c. 1870-1970 - Claire L. Jones
5 Learning the art and science of infection prevention and control: a practical application - Susan Macqueen

Part III: Practice and infection control: Focus on gloves
6 Wax paste and vaccination: alternatives to surgical gloves for infection control, 1880-1945 - Thomas Schlich
7 The evolving role of gloves in healthcare - Jennie Wilson

Part IV: Practice and infection control: In the laboratory
8 Constructing the 'Sanitary Officer': the Pathologist's role in infection prevention and control at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, 1892-1939 - Rosemary Cresswell
9 Infection control from the laboratory to the clinic: John H. Bowie and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, c.1945-1970 - Susan Gardiner

Part V: Into the future
10 Infection prevention and control in the twenty-first century: the era of patient safety - Neil Wigglesworth
11 Infection control and antimicrobial resistance: the past, the present and the future - Alistair Leanord

Conclusion: using the past - Marguerite Dupree, Anne Marie Rafferty and Fay Bound Alberti


Anne Marie Rafferty CBE is Professor of Nursing Policy at King's College London and President of the Royal College of Nursing

Marguerite Dupree is Professor Emeritus of Social and Medical History at the University of Glasgow and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge

Fay Bound Alberti is Reader in History, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Co-Director of the Centre for Global Health Histories at the University of York

Germs and governance

Edited by Anne Marie Rafferty, Marguerite Dupree, Fay Bound Alberti

Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

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