Nov 08, 2012 at 12:21AM EST
I’ll bet my left appendix (nosrsly you have two) that you’ve probably looked up Semmelweis already, and my other if you didn’t hit Google instantaneously, but basically Semmelweis was this guy who noticed that women who had their children delivered by trained professionals were dropping like flies from puerperal fever, about twice as many as those those who had their children delivered by midwives (mostly prostitutes). It got so bad that women would purposefully give birth on the streets so they would be spared the possibility of being assigned to the doctors. Semmelweis linked this to the fact that the doctors had been working with corpses, then immediately proceeded to give birth, and offered the simple remedy of (wait for it) washing their hands in between. And what do you know, it worked, and puerperal fever rates dropped drastically. So you’d imagine that he’d be hailed as a hero right? Save the kids, save the mothers, save the world!
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