According to Wikipedia*, "Ignaz Philipp
Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 - August 13, 1865) was the Hungarian physician
who demonstrated that puerperal fever (also known as "childbed fever")
was contagious and that its incidence could be drastically reduced by enforcing
appropriate hand-washing behavior by medical care-givers. He made this
discovery in 1847 while working in the Maternity Department of the Vienna
Lying-in Hospital. His failure to convince his fellow doctors led to a
tragic conclusion, however, he was ultimately vindicated.
Semmelweis realized that the number
of cases of puerperal fever was much larger at one of his wards than at
the other. After testing a few hypotheses, he found that the number of
cases was drastically reduced if the doctors washed their hands carefully
before dealing with a pregnant woman. Risk was especially high if they
had been in contact with corpses before they treated the women. The germ
theory of disease had not yet been developed at the time. Thus, Semelweiss
concluded that some unknown "cadaveric material" caused childbed fever.
He lectured publicly about his results
in 1850, however, the reception by the medical community was cold, if not
hostile. His observations went against the current scientific opinion of
the time, which blamed diseases on an imbalance of the basical "humours"
in the body. It was also argued that even if his findings were correct,
washing one's hands each time before treating a pregnant woman, as Semmelweis
advised, would be too much work. Nor were doctors eager to admit that they
had caused so many deaths. Semmelweis spent 14 years developing his ideas
and lobbying for their acceptance, culminating in a book he wrote in 1861.
The book received poor reviews, and he responded with polemic. In 1865,
he suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an insane asylum where
he soon died from blood poisoning.
Only after Dr. Semmelweis's death
was the germ theory of disease developed, and he is now recognized as a
pioneer of antiseptic policy and prevention of nosocomial disease."
Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 - August 13, 1865)
In 1847, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis's
close friend, Jakob Kolletschka, cuts his finger while he's doing an autopsy.
Kolletschka soon dies of symptoms like those of puerperal fever leading
Ignaz Semmelweis to pioneer antiseptic policy.
Joseph Lister : Antiseptic Principle
History Sourcebook - Joseph Lister : Antiseptic Principle
Joseph Lister had been convinced
of the importance of scrupulous cleanliness and the usefulness of deodorants
in the operating room; and when, through Pasteur's researches, he realized
that the formation of pus was due to bacteria, he proceeded to develop
his antiseptic surgical method.
Lister and Antiseptic Surgery
By the middle of the nineteenth
century, post-operative sepsis infection accounted for the death of almost
half of the patients undergoing major surgery. A common report by surgeons
was: operation successfully but the patient died.
History of Soap and Detergent
More on Antiseptics
of an Antiseptic
antiseptic, agent that kills or
inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body.
*licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation License It uses
material from the Wikipedia article "Ignaz
Important disclaimer information about this About site.