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Book and Media Reviews
September 17, 2008

Bennett and Brachman’s Hospital Infections

JAMA. 2008;300(11):1361-1362. doi:10.1001/jama.300.11.1361

In 1956, about 10 years after penicillin came into widespread use, Maxwell Finland conducted a spot survey of staphylococcal infections among 1172 patients at the Boston City Hospital.1 Accompanied by the house staff and the supervising nurse, he passed from bed to bed to determine whether each patient had a staphylococcal infection and, if so, whether it had been present on admission or acquired in the hospital. Sixty-eight patients (5.8%) had shown evidence of staphylococcal infections on admission and 113 (9.6%) had acquired them in the hospital. Eighteen house staff had large furuncles or carbuncles, 9 had recently recovered, and 7 nurses were absent from duty because of staphylococcal infections. Over the next 4 decades, Finland alerted the medical community to the emergence of resistance to each newly introduced antibiotic and in his quiet way successfully lobbied for antibiotic husbandry and hospital infection control. It was therefore fitting that Finland wrote the introduction to the first edition of this important book.

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