What do the name Ignaz Semmelweis and hand hygiene have in common?
Ignaz, a doctor in Hungary back in 1846, was one of the first advocates for hand sanitization to prevent the spread of infection. Dealing with an outbreak of Puerperal Fever, he concluded that the disease was could spread with contact on your hands. Not a commonly accepted theory of the time, he instructed his staff to start washing their instruments and hands with soap and chlorinated water. Even though a dramatic drop in death going from 20% to 2%, the medical community at the time could not believe that simple hand washing so dramatically slowed the spread of the germs and lowered the death rate
Unfortunately, the good doctor was not tactful in arguing his case, and he was universally ridiculed. Semmelweis lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity, never getting the credit he deserved. Ironically, he died from sepsis, the same type of infection he was trying to prevent.
Semmelweis' early practice of hand-washing and initial conclusions on germ theory set the groundwork for others like Louis Pasteur, Dr. Joseph Lister, and Dr. Robert Koch. They eventually provided proof that microorganisms caused diseases and could be transmitted through contact.
Through their continued research, validated Semmelweis earlier conclusions, and he is now considered a pioneer of antiseptic policy.
So, wash your hands! It's good for your health and that of others.