Ignaz Semmelweis - The first person in the world to discover the effect of handwashing

Ignaz Semmelweis (1/7 / 1818-13 / 8/1865), in the Buda neighborhood of Hungary (now Budapest, Hungary), is a Hungarian-Hungarian doctor who discovered the effect of handwashing to disinfect When researching on the causes of fever in newborns and putting this activity is required when practicing medicine.

Ignaz Semmelweis is the savior of mothers and children

Trained at Pest and Vienna universities, Semmelweis received a doctor's degree from Vienna in 1844 and was appointed an assistant at the obstetric clinic in Vienna. He was soon exposed to the problem of fever-causing infections in children, which is considered a disaster in maternity hospitals across Europe.

Picture 1 of Ignaz Semmelweis - The first person in the world to discover the effect of handwashing
Ignaz Semmelweis - Pioneers wash their hands with chlorine water before practicing medicine.(Photo: Archives Bettmann).

Although most women giving birth at home with the assistance of midwives still face obstetric complications with a mortality rate of up to 25% 30%. Some people think that the infection is caused by overcrowding, anaerobic conditions or when breastfeeding begins to poison.

Dr. Semmelweis investigated its cause in the face of strong opposition from the leader where he worked, explaining himself to the idea that the disease was incurable.

Picture 2 of Ignaz Semmelweis - The first person in the world to discover the effect of handwashing
Graph of results in Ignaz Semmelweis's research.(Source: Wikipedia).

When Ignaz Semmelweis observed that, among women in the first area of ​​the clinic, the child mortality rate was two or three times higher than among those in the second area, although two This section is identical with the exception of the student being taught in the first midwife and the second midwife.

He made the point that perhaps the students brought something to the patients they examined in the workplace. The death of a friend due to a wound infection arises in the process of examining a woman who died of infectious allergies and the similarity of findings in two cases supported his argument.

From those studies, Ignaz Semmelweis proposed hand washing practices with chlorine-containing solutions on March 20, 1847. He concluded that students who came directly from the operating room to the delivery room brought the germs from mothers who died from the disease to healthy mothers. He ordered the students to wash their hands in chlorine solution before each support activity.

When carrying out these procedures, the death rate in medical activities decreased from 18.27% to 1.27%. Especially during the period from March to August 1848, no women died during childbirth.

The young doctors in Vienna recognized the importance of Ignaz Semmelweis's research and provided the support and support they needed. However, his superior still held an opinion against Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis's ideas because he did not understand the important results of this study.

Ignaz Semmelweis with the journey of handwashing into medical practice

In 1849, he was expelled from his position at the obstetric clinic in Vienna, Ignaz Semmelweis applied for a lecture at the Medical University of Obstetrics but was rejected.

Shortly thereafter, he delivered a successful lecture at the Vienna Medical Association, entitled 'The Origin of Fever in Infants'. At the same time, Ignaz Semmelweis applied again for this lecture but continued to receive rejection due to the cognitive limitations of medical practitioners of the time. He decided to leave Vienna and return to Pest in 1850.

Ignaz Semmelweis works for the next six years at St. Hospital. Rochus in Pest. A plague fever broke out in obstetrics, and at the request of the leader, Semmelweis was assigned to be in charge of the department.

By then, his measures had promptly reduced the death rate, and in the following years, it averaged only 0.85%. Meanwhile, in Prague and Vienna, the rate is still from 10 to 15%. In 1855, he was appointed professor of obstetrics at Pest University.

His idea was accepted in Hungary, and the Government sent a circular to all district governments ordering the introduction of Semmelweis backup methods. In 1857, he refused to chair the Department of Obstetrics at the University of Zürich.

Even so, the medical leaders in Vienna were so hostile to him that the editor of Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift wrote that it was time to put an end to the nonsense of chlorine handwashing.

In 1861, Ignaz Semmelweis published his main work, Die Ätiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfiebers (Causes, concepts, and prevention of fever in children). He sent it to all the famous obstetrician and medical doctors abroad, but the general reaction was still adverse. The power of the government has resisted his warning.

Picture 3 of Ignaz Semmelweis - The first person in the world to discover the effect of handwashing
The cover of his main work, Die Ätiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfiebers of Ignaz Semmelweis.

Not giving up, he sent some open letters to medical professors in other countries, but it was not very effective. At a conference of German doctors and natural scientists, most speakers including pathologist Rudolf Virchow rejected his theory. The years of controversy gradually weakened the spirit of fighting to protect research of Ignaz Semmelweis.

In 1865, he collapsed and was taken to a mental hospital, where he died. Ironically, Ignaz Semmelweis's illness and death were due to an infection of his right hand wound, the result of a surgery that had been done before he became ill. He died of a disease similar to the studies his doctor had struggled to protect throughout his life.

The doctrine of Ignaz Semmelweis was later accepted by the medical community. His influence on knowledge development and infection control was praised by Joseph Lister - The father of modern antiseptics once said: "I think with his greatest admiration and achievement. "and he made me happy because he 's finally respected by him."

In honor of the birth of handwashing for antiseptic in the medical industry, Google Doodle has changed to honor Ignaz Semmelweis.

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