In the past, many pregnant women died during childbirth due to a lack of understanding about the importance of hygiene in medical settings. This was largely due to the fact that doctors did not wash their hands before examining or treating patients, which allowed bacteria and other pathogens to spread easily.
One man who recognized this problem was Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who worked in a maternity clinic in Vienna. In 1847, he noticed that the mortality rate for pregnant women was much higher in the clinic's first division, where doctors performed exams and deliveries, compared to the second division, where midwives were the primary caregivers.
Dr. Semmelweis hypothesized that the difference was due to the doctors not washing their hands, and he implemented a policy requiring all doctors and medical students to wash their hands with a chlorine solution before examining patients. The result was a dramatic decrease in the mortality rate in the first division.
Despite this success, Dr. Semmelweis's colleagues were initially resistant to his findings and refused to adopt his hand-washing policy. As he wrote in his book "The Etiology, Concept, and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever," "Despite the evidence presented, the majority of obstetricians refused to accept the concept of contagion or the idea that cleanliness was essential to the prevention of disease."
Unfortunately, this unwillingness to embrace change and accept new ideas led to the unnecessary deaths of many pregnant women. It wasn't until several years later, after the work of other scientists had confirmed Dr. Semmelweis's findings, that hand-washing became standard practice in medical settings.
In conclusion, the story of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis and the resistance to his hand-washing policy highlights the consequences of not embracing change and embracing new ideas in the medical field. By refusing to accept the importance of hygiene in preventing the spread of disease, many lives were lost unnecessarily. It is a reminder of the importance of being open to new ideas and willing to adapt to improve our health and wellbeing.