Why Was a Doctor Once Ridiculed for Recommending Hand Washing?
Even, when there isn't a pandemic gone, we all know were supposed to wash our hands especially before we eat or after we've touched something gross, but that wasn't always the case. As recently as the eighteen hundreds, a doctor was mocked for even suggesting that physicians wash their hands before working with patients, and that dear listener is how we begin the strange and sad story of Nets, some of ice, a nineteenth century doctor sometimes called the father of infection control. them vice was born in Hungary in eighteen, eighteen and graduating medical school. He started a job at Vienna. General Hospital in Austria in eighteen forty six there there. He became a gas to the mortality rate of new mothers in one of the hospitals wards. In this ward up to eighteen percent of new mothers were dying from what was then called child, bed, fever or pure berle fever. We know today that this is a fever caused by infection of the reproductive or urinary tract in new mothers? Yet another of the hospital's wards where midwives instead of doctors delivered all of the babies, only about two percent of mothers died of this then mysterious fever. similize vice began reasoning his way to the root of the problem. He considered climate and crowding, but eventually ruled those factors out in the end. The midwives themselves seems to be the only real difference between the two wards. Then Zuma vice had an epiphany one of the hospitals doctors, a pathologist accidentally nicked himself the scalpel that hit used during an autopsy of one of these unfortunate mothers. The doctor was sick and with child bed fever and he died. Zamel vice made the connection that doctors were performing autopsies on patients who died of child, had fever, and then immediately afterward going to deliver babies without stopping to wash their hands. He suspected that this was the source of the deadly problem. We spoke by with Dana Towards e eski philosophy professor at Purdue University whose name I hope I'm pronouncing correctly. She explained, basically has hypothesis here was that it was cadaveric matter from scalpels, the entered the pathologists blood, and caused the infection and same material could be transferred to the women on the hands of the doctors, because the doctors do autopsies, and then go straight to examine the women who had given birth without washing their hands, changing their clothes, or basically taking any hygienic measures at all, he then tested this hypothesis by requiring people who had performed autopsies to wash their hands with chloride of lime, a disinfectant before attending the weapon and this, the mortality rate in the first clinic fell to that of the second. You'd think that some of fellow doctors would have lauded him for this discovery, but you'd be wrong. You see in the eighteen forties. Germ theory hadn't been conceived yet. That's the theory that diseases are caused by organisms, not visible to the naked eye and people still suspected the diseases transferred from one person to another via toxic. Not Bacteria or viruses, this was called miasma theory in washing their hands. They probably wanted to be rid of whatever was causing a bad. Not to kill germs that might wreak havoc on them or someone else. We also spoke by email, but Michael Melanson, an adjunct professor of medicine at. University he said physicians of Vices. Time simply did not understand or believe that something microscopic could be wreaking such havoc on their patients. They literally believed their own is less. We feel too smug. Consider how many people currently embrace a lack of COVID, nineteen deaths among people like me geographically racially economically or otherwise as evidence that scientists are overestimating the pandemics risk. Better hand washing regimens dramatically improved death rates at the maternity ward, but some vices colleagues were at best miffed at the implication that their ignorance was killing their own patients, and perhaps implication that midwives were better at delivering babies than they were. It didn't help that Zimmer Vice essentially laid the deaths of the wards mothers at the feet of his superiors. His own supervisor countered that the hospitals new ventilation system must be the reason for the decline in maternity deaths. Also, Zimbabwe's was a Hungarian in Austria A. Working in country in the throes of xenophobia. So those doctors rejected his theories and some of ice himself as being inferior, they opted to stick with their miasma theory, and for good measure in eighteen, forty nine did not renews vices appointment. As vice eventually got a medical position in Budapest where he according to the British Medical Journal quote publicly harangued doctors nurses about hand, washing and reduced maternal mortality. He eventually published a book on the subject some fourteen years later, but it was poorly written and poorly received. Possibly, experiencing mental disorder or extreme stress from his rejection by the medical establishment, Zim of ice ended up a patient in an asylum in eighteen sixty five weeks later, he was dead of an infection from a wound that he received in the facility. She was just forty seven years old. similize left behind monumental legacy, but the tragedy of his story has made it Garner a few minutes. One of those being that demo vice was the first suggested theory about doctors transmitting germs. Kaletsky said he wasn't really a pioneer. Other people before Zamel vice had hit upon the idea that child bed fever could be transmitted from doctor or midwife to patient for example Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen showed in Seventeen Ninety. Five child had fever was almost always transmitted by doctors or midwives, and also that it was connected to a kind of streptococcal skin rash. He also thought that the best treatment was copious bleeding.