Research Output
Infection control: evidence-based common sense
  When compared against classical sciences, infection control is very much the ‘new kid-on-the-block’. This means that activities directed by infection prevention and control are more likely to reflect ‘common sense’ rather than robust evidence. Indeed, hand hygiene, isolation, screening, decontamination and cleaning remain hotly debated, especially the current vogue for bathing patients in antiseptics. So, which of these provide measurable benefit, and which do not? And why is it important? Do we actually need irrefutable evidence for the advice that we dispel on a daily basis? This opinion piece examines the main components of a modern day infection control service and assesses their worth from a mainly UK perspective. The findings suggest that the framework for preventing infection is structurally sound, despite the lack of evidence. Biological sciences, by their very nature, do not easily fit into neat equations; they remain subject to measurement variables, tempered by patient status and microscopic pathogens. Despite this, numerous reports from healthcare facilities all over the world stand testimony to basic hygiene, particularly when confronted by outbreaks. Managers and others who seek to undermine traditional infection control practices should be challenged, particularly when imposing knee-jerk policies for which there is no evidence at all. Given the insidious creep of antimicrobial resistance, infection prevention and control will inevitably assume the status it has hitherto been denied. Common sense, however defined, eventually turns into scientific evidence at some stage but this progression relies upon continued accumulation, evaluation and integration of evidence by professionals and policy makers.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 November 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Elsevier BV

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Dancer, S. J. (2016). Infection control: evidence-based common sense. Infection, Disease & Health, 21(4), 147-153.



Hygiene, Cleaning, Isolation, Screening, Antimicrobial agents,

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