Infection control on the movie screen – why films like “Aviator” help preventing infections

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“Aviator” with Leonardo Di Caprio, “Double Trouble” with Bud Spencer, or “The Rebound” with Catherine Zeta-Jones. What do this films have in common? “They include infection control scenes. “And we can profit from this movie-scenes in infection control”, says Dr. Bori Szel (Univ. Szeged, Hungary), one of the 3 poster-winners (“IC on the movie screen”) at the last Semmelweis Conference (March, Budapest). There she was invited by Prof. Didier Pittet (WHO) to participate at ICPIC 2017. Bori Szel was interviewed by Carola Timmel.

Media in general, and especially movies have great impact on people’s behaviour and opinion. That was obviously a reason to look at movies and their potential in terms of infection control. 13 movies (containing 19 infection control scenes) were involved in your study. What was for you personally the most impressive film scene regarding the topic “hand hygiene”?

Dany Boon starring in Superchondriac is very entertaining and instructive but Heath Ledger’s hand hygiene performance in The Dark Knight is so surrealistic that it usually has a great impact on the audience.

What can we learn from this scene?

Dany Boon teaches us why hand hygiene is important and how to rub your hands with alcohol based hand sanitizer even on New Year’s Eve. By the way, I highly recommend to watch the whole movie (Superchondriac, 2014), because not only hand hygiene scenes are presented, but also hospital hygiene for laypeople, infection control in general and surface disinfection with sterilization scenes.

Do you think that scenes like that should be more integrated in common hand hygiene campaigns in the future?

Definitely! Other worldwide campaigns have their own celebrities (e.g.: AIDS campaigns, Violence Against Women campaigns, Climate Change campaigns) and social media awareness. Infection control professionals have their own charismatic leaders, and other health care workers should have role models as well. Furthermore, it is also important to draw people’s attention to hand hygiene. This was my main idea when I created a Clip for ICPIC Clip Award. I would like to conserve these essential scenes of the films on hand hygiene and transform them into a short, educational clip for professionals and laypeople. I hope that it will induce a butterfly effect and more and more non-healthcare themed movies (even reality shows!) will present hand hygiene as an everyday act like texting a message in our smartphones.

Will you present at ICPIC your poster, that you presented at the Semmelweis Conference?

Yes, I am going to present my poster at ICPIC as it has been accepted for presentation.

Is it the first time that you participate at ICPIC?

Yes, it is and I am very excited to take part in the ICPIC 2017 Conference. So far I only have been at IFIC (in Malta and Vienna) and I really enjoyed it.

What do you expect from this event?

This will be a great opportunity to share experience with other professionals, listen to interesting lectures and see how the different fields of infection control and prevention are improving around the world or facing new challenges. Since I am working in a clinical centre, my main field of interest is best practice of motivating health care workers and patients aiming to develop an infection control and prevention-based, responsible behaviour in health care facilities.

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Carola Timmel

Carola Timmel is journalist for print and radio and professional speaker. Her focus lies on the topic Medicine & Health.

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