Ignaz Semmelweis Saved Lives With Three Words


You never heard of Ignaz Semmelweis?

There is a sentence about him in lots of medical books.

I first heard about him scrubbing in for surgery with the Chief of General Surgery at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati Ohio.

I was told he had been a Jewish surgeon, and a brilliant one at that, who had been treated abysmally both for being Jewish and for seeing his three life-saving words — now known as scientific truth — poorly accepted and angrily denied in his own time.

Semelweis’ sin was far worse than being Jewish could ever be.  His sin was simply three words:

Wash your hands.

Childbed fever had been a major killer of mothers when Semmelweis postulated the mortality could be seriously reduced by having doctors wash their hands with chlorinated lime solution after they had performed autopsies.  It did, by about 99%.

Although microbiology and the consequent understanding of infection came with Pasteur in France and Lister in England, Semmelweis was already dead. His rejection and humiliation had made him horribly depressed. This life-saving saint had been admitted to an asylum at age 47, beaten by the guards and was dead within two weeks from “Pyemia” (read “infection”).

Got to give Wikipedia proper respect here; amazing reference list.  Portraits and dramas and memorials and uncountable numbers of human lives saved.

Nothing shocks humans more than going against accepted beliefs.  That is why my favorite memorial or all is a web page tribute.

I am far from the only one who has criticized American Medicine for making money from Ideas that do not reflect the highest level of scientific truth known.

None are more deaf than those who will not hear.

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