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Ignatz Semmelweis

Ignatz Semmelweis

H419/0435

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Credit

JOHN DAUGHERTY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN DAUGHERTY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Ignatz Semmelweis was a pioneer in medical prophylaxis, the innovator of hand-washing and antiseptic solutions for surgeons and obstetricians. Unbelievable as it seems, professors and their students in medical universities went from the dissecting room, where they demonstrated and practiced delivering babies from cadavers, to the Lying In rooms where they examined women about to give birth - all without washing or disinfecting their hands. A gratuitous rubbing of their bloody hands on their lab coats was considered ample readiness, and in fact the presence of bloody matter on their coats was deemed almost a badge of honor. Semmelweis turned that all around in a revolution that was to save millions of new mothers lives all over the world.

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