Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor and scientist in Vienna General Hospital, is known as the father of hand hygiene. In the year 1846, Semmelweis noticed a situation – the women giving birth in the medical student-run maternity ward in his hospital were more likely to develop a fever and die compared to the women giving birth in the midwife-run ward.
Then he investigated the situation and found that the doctors often visited the maternity ward directly after an autopsy. While the doctor’s performing an autopsy ‘cadaverous particles’ will be present on their hands and after that, they enter the maternity ward. This created the whole problem.
Implementation of Hand Washing
To stop this from happening, Semmelweis found hand washing chlorine for doctors. After this implementation, the death rate decreased, and this was the first proof that cleansing hands prevent infection. But some of the doctors disagreed and stopped following it. They were disgruntled that Semmelweis was implying that they were to blame for the deaths.
1. Who Is the Father of Hand Washing?
- A. Florence Nightingale
- B. Dmitry Ivanovsky
- C. Ignaz Semmelweis
- D. None of the above
Later Semmelweis tried to persuade doctors in European hospitals to wash hands, and that was also a failure. And a few years later Florence Nightingale introduced hand washing in the Crimean war and her handwashing technique achieved a reduction in infections.
At that time, the hand hygiene promoted by Semmelweis and Nightingale was not popularly adopted. In general hand washing practice stood for a century. But in recent years, hand washing with soap and other forms of sanitizers is well recognized and is an essential tool for achieving good health.