The modern healthcare system involves complex interactions among microbes, patients, providers, and the built environment. It represents a unique and challenging setting for control of the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. We examine an extension of the perspectives and methods from ecology (and especially urban ecology) to address these unique issues, and we outline 3 examples: (1) viewing patients as individual microbial ecosystems; (2) the altered ecology of infectious diseases specifically within hospitals; and (3) ecosystem management perspectives for infection surveillance and control. In each of these cases, we explore the accuracy and relevance of analogies to existing urban ecological perspectives, and we demonstrate a few of the potential direct uses of this perspective for altering research into the control of healthcare-associated infections.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2016;1507–1512