Review Article
Volume 9 Issue 8 - 2020
Ignaz Semmelweis: Hand Washing in the Times of Puerperal Fever and in those of COVID19 or how to Delay Progress Without Even Knowing it
Sola Augusto1*, Sola Augusto Javier2 and Rodríguez Susana3
1Medical Director, Ibero American Society of Neonatology (SIBEN), Wellington, Florida, USA
2Creative Copywriter, New York, USA
3Education and Research Department, Garrahan Hospital and Ibero American Society of Neonatology (SIBEN), Argentina
*Corresponding Author: Sola Augusto, Medical Director, Ibero American Society of Neonatology (SIBEN), Wellington, Florida, USA.
Received: July 19, 2020; Published: July 31, 2020


This manuscript covers history, social aspects and ethics in the practice of medicine and the impact of delaying advances in health care and it could be an important contribution to the medical literature and clinical practice.

We utilize the history and life of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis as examples of innovation and the rejection of new ideas despite adequate proof and of the social and health care consequences of delaying implementation of simple measures for quality of care improvement, making a parallelism with the COVID-19 pandemia.

In 1843, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes in Boston, advanced the controversial idea that doctors were capable of carrying puerperal fever from patient to patient. A few years later, Semmelweis described handwashing as a simple lifesaving tool in Vienna. He found that handwashing with a calcium hypochlorite solution before assisting a delivery was associated with a significant decreased in puerperal mortality from 12 - 20% in previous years to 1.3%. The push back to his findings by the professorial establishment of the time were weighty. Factual knowledge was systematically dismissed because the evidence ran contrary to existing paradigms. The history of medical science is replete with examples of pioneering ideas that endured decades of rejection (a few of them will be mentioned). Effective hand hygiene is a simple tool available to prevent the spread of the untreatable Coronavirus. All people should be redoubling handwashing efforts to prevent COVID-19 disease. Sadly, the enduring culture remains a barrier to patient safety.

Keywords: Semmelweis Reflex; Belief Perseverance; Handwashing; Idea Rejection


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Citation: Sola Augusto., et al. “Ignaz Semmelweis: Hand Washing in the Times of Puerperal Fever and in those of COVID19 or how to Delay Progress Without Even Knowing it”. EC Paediatrics 9.8 (2020): 43-54.

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