Ignaz Semmelweis


CDC revised its infection control guidelines regarding mask-wearing in healthcare settings, from hospitals and clinics to home care providers and nursing homes. The new guideline recommended masks only need to be worn in healthcare settings when COVID Community Transmission rates are high, based on the CDC map. This change is dangerous, unethical and based on flawed data.


You know how a doc discovered hand washing between dissecting cadavers and delivering babies could save lives? Imagine if 3 yrs later, they were like "that's mildly inconvenient so I'm gonna go back to not washing my hands". That's what maskless MDs look like to me 🤷🏼‍♀️


They basically did that. They phased handwashing out in the hospital where it was discovered and first implemented because it made doctors upset. It took 30 years to get from Ignaz Semmelweis proving handwashing saves lives to getting most doctors to do it.


Medical students and their professors at the elite teaching hospitals of this era typically began their day performing barehanded autopsies on the women who had died the day before of childbed fever. They then proceeded to the wards to examine the laboring women about to deliver their babies. [...] Every day he heard the heart-rending pleas of women assigned to his care begging to be discharged because they believed these doctors to be the harbingers of death. [...]

Dr. Semmelweis ordered his medical students and junior physicians to wash their hands in a chlorinated lime solution until the smell of the putrid bodies they dissected in the autopsy suite was no longer detectable. Soon after instituting this protocol in 1847, the mortality rates on the doctor-dominated obstetrics service plummeted.

Unfortunately, Semmelweis's ideas were not accepted by all of his colleagues. Indeed, many were outraged at the suggestion that they were the cause of their patients' miserable deaths. Consequently, Semmelweis met with enormous resistance and criticism. [...]

Dr. Semmelweis's behavior became more and more erratic and he was finally committed to an insane asylum on July 30, 1865. He died there, two weeks later, on Aug. 13, 1865, at the age of 47. Historians still argue over what caused Semmelweis's mental health breakdown and subsequent death. Some point to an operation Semmelweis performed, wherein he infected himself with syphilis, which may also explain his insanity. Others believe he developed blood poisoning and sepsis while imprisoned in the asylum for what may have been an unbridled case of bipolar disease. More recently, some have claimed that the obstetrician had an early variant of Alzheimer's disease and was beaten to death in the asylum by his keepers.

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13 Responses:

  1. Elusis says:

    So how did it go from "too hard to require b/c it annoyed the surgeons" to "a standardized requirement no one questions"?

  2. Jon says:

    So finally I know who this Semmelweisstreet in my neighborhood was named after.

  3. Aristotle says:

    Indeed, many were outraged at the suggestion that they were the cause of their patients' miserable deaths.

    They at least had the excuse that germ theory was not yet established or accepted, let alone over a century old, and were still figuring out the mechanisms of how disease spreads.

    What’s the 2022 CDC’s excuse, again?

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