Everyone Loves A Story!

I Love This Story, But Not The Outcome!

Ignaz Semmelweis washing his hands

In spite of a carefully designed scientific study, which left no doubt as to the cause of sepsis in these women and children, Ignaz failed to convince his physician colleagues of the value of hand washing.

A Lesson Ignored By Pride!

Everyone loves a story: Here’s a story from my latest book, Prepare For Aging – I find it fascinating!

The year, 1846.

A salutary tale of a powerful observation, ignored. Extracted from an article, by Rebecca Davis of North Carolina Public Radio.

“Our hero is Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor. He wondered why so many women in maternity wards were dying from puerperal fever, also known as childbed fever. He studied two maternity wards in the hospital. One staffed by male doctors and medical students and the other by female midwives. He counted the number of deaths on each ward.

He noticed that more women were dying in the doctors’ clinic than in the midwives’ clinic. He tested things that may have been responsible. Whether the women delivered on their back or their side. Whether a priest passed through the ward, ringing a bell. Finally, Semmelweis hypothesized that there were cadaverous particles. Little pieces of corpse. That doctors and students were getting on their hands from the bodies they dissected. During delivery, these particles would get inside the women. Causing the women to develop the disease and die.

If Semmelweis’ idea was correct, getting rid of those particles should cut down on the death rate.

He ordered medical staff to start cleaning their hands and instruments. With a chlorine solution. Chlorine, as we know today, is about the best disinfectant there is. He chose chlorine because he thought it would be the best way to get rid of any smell.

The rate of childbed fever fell dramatically.

You’d think everyone would be thrilled. Semmelweis had solved the problem! But they weren’t thrilled. Did he think the doctors were responsible for transmitting childbed fever to their patients? And Semmelweis wasn’t tactful. He berated people who disagreed with him and made some influential enemies. The doctors gave up the chlorine hand-washing, and Semmelweis lost his job.”

Those physicians knew they could not be transmitting diseases to their patients. It was obvious! They were doctors for heaven’s sake. Get rid of that guy!”

So they did!

How about that!

So many more women died, for no good reason!


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.