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Hungarian physician Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis

Hungarian physician Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis

H419/0055

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis (1818-1865), Hungarian physician and pioneer in the treatment of sepsis. As a specialist in obstetrics at the General Hospital in Vienna, Semmelweis noted that the mortality in pregnant women due to puerperal (childbirth) fever was 3 times higher in clinics staffed by medical students than those staffed by midwives. Deducing that an infectious agent was being carried from the dissecting rooms, he insisted that staff wash their hands in disinfectant, drastically reducing the mortality. However his ideas were not popular and it was only after Lister's success with anti- septic surgery that they were adopted.

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