UNBELIEVABLE!! Doctor Who Discovered Handwashing Prevents Disease Was Thrown Into A Mental Institution For His Crazy Ideas
Sept. 18, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic today has taught us a lot of things, however, the most significant of these lessons might just be that a simple act of thoroughly washing one's hands could go a very long way in keeping the whole world safe.
But who would have seen it coming that the man who discovered this integral method of preventing diseases by handwashing would be thrown into a mental asylum for his crazy ideas?
It was the year was 1846 when the Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis began conducting his research. During this period, doctors like Semmelweis were no longer thinking of illness as an imbalance caused by bad air or evil spirits. They looked instead to anatomy. Autopsies became more common, and doctors got interested in numbers and collecting data.
When Dr Semmelweis showed up for his new job in the maternity clinic at the General Hospital in Vienna, he started collecting some data of his own. Semmelweis wanted to figure out why so many women in maternity wards were dying from puerperal fever — commonly known as childbed fever.
After several failed hypotheses, Semmelweis discovered that the doctors were doing autopsies on the dead bodies of the pregnant women and there were tiny particles of the corpse that would get on their hands. And when they delivered the babies, these particles would get inside the women who would develop the disease and die.
If Semmelweis' hypothesis was correct, getting rid of those tiny particles should cut down on the death rate from childbed fever.
So he ordered his medical staff to start cleaning their hands and instruments not just with soap but with a chlorine solution. Chlorine, as we know today, is about the best disinfectant there is. Semmelweis didn't know anything about germs. He chose the chlorine because he thought it would be the best way to get rid of any smell left behind by those little bits of corpse.
And when he imposed this, the rate of childbed fever fell dramatically.
What Semmelweis had discovered is something that still holds true today: Hand-washing is one of the most important tools in public health. It can keep kids from getting the flu, prevent the spread of disease and keep infections at bay.
You'd think everyone would be thrilled. Semmelweis had solved the problem! But they weren't thrilled. For one thing, doctors were upset because Semmelweis' hypothesis made it look like they were the ones giving childbed fever to the women.
And on top of that, Semmelweis publicly berated people who disagreed with him and made some influential enemies. Eventually, the doctors gave up the chlorine hand-washing, and Semmelweis lost his job. Semmelweis kept trying to convince doctors in other parts of Europe to wash with chlorine, but no one would listen to him.
Over the years, Semmelweis got angrier and eventually even strange. There's been speculation he developed a mental condition brought on by possible syphilis or even Alzheimer's. And in 1865, when he was only 47 years old, Ignaz Semmelweis was committed to a mental asylum.
The sad end to the story is that Semmelweis was probably beaten in the asylum and eventually died of sepsis, a potentially fatal complication of an infection in the bloodstream — basically, it's the same disease Semmelweis fought so hard to prevent in those women who died from childbed fever.
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