Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis


Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, (1818-1865), was born in Buda (now part of Budapest) and became the first doctor to use antiseptic methods systematically in childbirth. In a clinic at the Vienna General Hospital in Vienna, Austria, he discovered that puerperal fever, which then killed a vast number of mothers and neonates, was contagious, and that doctors were spreading the disease by not cleaning their hands after performing autopsies. He was ridiculed for this idea. But he maintained his stand, and in 1861 published his classic work "The Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbirth Fever". Opponents of his ideas attacked him fiercely, and eventually had him committed to a mental hospital, where he died, ironically enough, of puerperal fever from an infected cut. The year of Semmelweis's death, the British surgeon Joseph Lister performed his first antiseptic operation, and soon afterward it was recognized that Semmelweis had been right.His actions lead to aseptic techniques and the doubling of the average lifespan for women. See also the "RE: virus: Germ Warfare (was: Being uncomfortable isn't always bad)" posts made on Virus in February 1999 and in particular the one made by Hermit at Fri 1999-02-05 05:15.

Last edited on Sunday, August 24, 2003 10:20:23 pm.