Hand Washing

* In 1848, Dr. Semmelweis, a graduate of the prestigious University of Vienna Medical School, introduced a revolutionary idea while assisting in the Vienna Obstetrical Clinic: he required medical students to wash their hands in chlorine water before entering the clinic. There was an immediate and dramatic decrease in the high death rate from puerperal (child-birth) fever. The good doctor became an outspoken advocate, pleading with Obstetricians to tend maternity patients only after proper hand washing. After a vicious attack on his personal and professional integrity, he was fired from the hospital where he had just eradicated a cause of death.

* This courageous, principled, doctor then spent ten years gathering evidence to prove that hand washing would prevent terrible misery and death from childbirth fever. He published his research in 1861 and distributed the medical text to the major medical societies throughout Europe. It was completely ignored. In one of those years, 40 percent of the maternity patients in Stockholm, Sweden, contracted the fever: 16 percent of those new mothers died.

* The deadly fever continued to ravage women  while the hand washing prevention/cure was “put on hold” by Organized Medicine. The poor doctor could no longer cope with the preventable death and misery of so many women. In 1865 he died after a mental breakdown; such tragedies still occur among gifted researchers whose great discoveries are ignored. So, from the safety of the next century, Dr. Semmelweis can be credited by the medical profession with his lifesaving discovery…Hand Washing!



* Which supports and barriers were in play?

* What were the dynamics?

* Who, or what, won the Tug-of-War?

* Discuss the outcome with your friends and family.

* Use Post #4 as a reference for the dynamics, and the relationships, between supports and barriers.