Infection outbreaks in acute hospitals: a systems approach
journal contributionposted on 14.12.2010, 15:27 authored by Patrick WatersonPatrick Waterson
This paper puts forward the case for applying a systems approach to the analysis of hospital-based infection outbreaks. A major advantage of the systems approach is that it affords insights into how actions or occurrences at one system level (e.g. individual error) collectively interact with team (e.g. leadership style) and organisational (e.g. safety culture) levels of analysis. Most of the research concerned with behavioural aspects of infection control has focused on a single level of analysis (e.g. interventions to improve hand washing). The infection outbreaks at the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust are used as a case study in order to demonstrate the usefulness of the systems approach. The paper further outlines the human and organisational issues raised by the analysis and provides a means through which these aspects of infection can be highlighted as part of a future research agenda.